Firefighters accept revised pay deal to avert strikes

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Strikers have voted to accept a wage settlement aimed at averting strike action, with one union leader hailing the agreement as “testament to the power of collective action”.

A better offer of 7% pay hike was made to the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) in February, which is higher than last July and 5% from July this year.

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The union’s executive decided to recommend that members vote to accept the proposal in a ballot that opened on February 20 and closed on Monday.

Some 96% of FBU members voted to accept the deal, on an 84% turnout.

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FBU general secretary Matt Rack praised the collective bargaining process through which the agreement was reached as a better alternative to pay review bodies.

He expressed solidarity with striking workers from other sectors, arguing that the wage review body process would have made industrial action “inevitable” for firefighters and asked the government to “wake up to that fact”.

Reacting to the news, he said: “An overwhelming vote by FBU members to accept the better offer means the dispute is resolved on terms favorable to the firefighters.

Without the overwhelming mandate for strike action by firefighters last month, this deal would never have been achieved

“We pay tribute to the members of our union for their determination and unity in the past one year. Firefighters will now get two increments including back pay of nine months.

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

“We moved our employers from 2% in June last year to 5% in November, and now to 7% plus 5% with an agreement for immediate talks on other areas where we have concerns on wages.

“The key mechanism to achieve this result was direct negotiation with the Fire and Rescue Service employers. With collective bargaining, we were able to stand our ground and avoid industrial action.

“This would not have been possible with a so-called ‘independent’ pay review body. Strike action under a pay review body would have been inevitable and the government would have to wake up to this fact.

“The FBU leadership is determined not to sugar-coat the offer. For the current year, 7% is still another real rule pay cut. For next year (July 2023 to July 2024), when inflation subsides It is estimated that there may be a marginal increase in salary in real terms of 5%.

Mr Wrack said: “At a time when the UK government is presiding over attacks on key workers’ pay in the NHS, teaching, rail and postal services, the attacks on workers are the first line of defence.

“FBU stands in solidarity with every union on strike for fair wages.

“We will now step up our resistance against the outrageous and authoritarian legislation that the Tories have sent through Parliament to restrict working people’s rights to take strike action in defense of pay and jobs.”

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