Strikes Scotland: Firefighters accept revised pay deal and call off industrial action

​Firefighters have accepted a pay offer aimed at averting strike action, with a union leader hailing the deal as a "testament to the power of collective action”.

A revised offer was made in February to the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) of a 7 per cent pay rise backdated to last July and a further 5 per cent from July this year.

The union's executive decided to recommend that members vote to accept the offer in a ballot, which opened on February 20 and closed on Monday.

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FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said an "overwhelming" majority of members had backed the settlement.

Fire Brigade recruits go through their paces. Picture: PAFire Brigade recruits go through their paces. Picture: PA
Fire Brigade recruits go through their paces. Picture: PA

He praised the process of collective bargaining through which the settlement figure was reached as a better alternative to pay review bodies.

Reacting to the news, he said: "The overwhelming vote by FBU members to accept the improved offer means that the dispute is resolved on terms that are favourable to firefighters.

"We pay tribute to members of our union for their determination and unity throughout the past year. Firefighters will now receive two pay increases, including nine months of back pay.

"This result is testament to the power of collective action. Without the huge mandate for strike action by firefighters last month, this deal would never have been achieved.

"We moved our employers from 2 per cent in June last year, to 5 per cent in November, and now to 7 per cent plus 5 per cent with an agreement to immediate talks on other areas where have concerns over pay.

"The crucial mechanism for achieving this outcome was direct negotiations with Fire and Rescue Service employers. With collective bargaining, we were able to make our case and avoid industrial action.

"This would not have been possible with so-called ‘independent’ Pay Review Body. Under a pay review body strike action would have been inevitable and the government needs to wake up to that fact.

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"The FBU leadership has been determined not to sugarcoat the offer. For the current year, 7 per cent is still another real terms pay cut. For the following year (July 2023 to July 2024), when inflation is forecast to be lower, 5 per cent may amount to a slight increase in real terms pay."

Mr Wrack added: "It's clear from this dispute that the organised power of trade unions, including being prepared to take strike action when necessary, can protect the pay and conditions of workers.

"At a time when the UK Government is presiding over attacks on the wages of key workers in the NHS, teaching, rail and postal services, strikes are the first line of defence against those attacks on workers.

"The FBU stands in solidarity with each and every union on strike for decent pay.

"We will now step up our resistance against the outrageous and authoritarian law that the Tories have rushed through Parliament to restrict the rights of working people to take strike action in defence of wages and jobs."

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme earlier on Monday he said: "It's a step forward but it would not be the end of our campaigning on pay.

"We think there is significant under-investment in the fire service and that needs to be addressed."



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