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FBU leadership recommends acceptance of revised pay offer

21 February 2023

THE EXECUTIVE Council of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has unanimously recommended that members accept a revised pay offer. On Wednesday 9 February, Fire and Rescue Service employers agreed to a 7% pay rise backdated to July 2022 in addition to a further 5% pay rise from July 2023.

This is what the FBU refers to as “a significant shift”. In June last year, firefighters were offered the sum of 2%. Last November, they overwhelmingly rejected a pay offer of 5% in the wake of a consultative ballot.

It was only when firefighters voted in huge numbers for industrial action that employers finally moved their stance. 88% of FBU members voted ‘Yes’ to strike action on a 73% turnout, with 94% voting ‘Yes’ in Northern Ireland.

The FBU had already agreed not to name strike dates while Trade Union members are consulted on the offer and has set out a timetable to consult members. A hybrid online and postal ballot will open on Monday 20 February and close on Monday 6 March at 2.00 pm.

The Trade Union has said that it will have an “honest and sober” discussion of the offer, which – according to the FBU – still amounts to a real terms pay cut given the rate of inflation. The FBU is also adamant that, since 2010, the average firefighter has lost at least 12% of the value of their pay.

Proud campaign

In an e-mail communication sent to FBU members, the Trade Union’s general secretary Matt Wrack states: “We should all be proud of the campaign we have run to reach this position. We have now moved our employers from 2% in June last year to 5% in November and now to 7% plus 5%.”

He continued: “This achievement was only possible because of our overwhelming mandate for strike action. It’s clear evidence of the value of collective bargaining and negotiation as opposed to so-called ‘independent’ pay review bodies.”

That said, Wrack also stressed that the Trade Union leadership would not ‘sugar-coat’ the offer: “Given the current rate of inflation, 7% is another real terms pay cut for the current pay round (which runs from July 2022 to July 2023). For the following year (July 2023 to July 2024), when inflation is forecast to be lower, 5% may amount to a slight increase in real terms pay.”

According to Wrack, the Executive Council has weighed up the positives and negatives and decided that, on balance, to recommend that members vote to accept this latest offer.

Wrack concluded: “This is your Trade Union, and it’s now for you to decide whether or not the latest offer represents a good enough improvement for us to resolve this dispute.”