West Midlands firefighters vote overwhelmingly to strike | News
Almost 90% of FBU members voted for industrial action.
Firefighters will take industrial action in what will be the first nationwide strike over pay since 2003.
The results of a national Fire Brigades Union (FBU) vote came back today, with 88% of members voting in favor of a strike with a turnout of 73%.
The vote required a turnout of more than 50% – approximately 30,000 members.
Union members rejected a 5% salary offer last November, opening a formal ballot on December 5th.
Workers have seen real wages fall by 12% since 2010, and about one in five firefighter jobs have been eliminated.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “Firefighters have faced a sustained attack on wages for more than a decade, with average wages falling by around £4,000 in real terms.
“Our members face dangerous situations every day and sometimes risk their health to get the job done. With double-digit inflation and skyrocketing energy bills, they are now being told they are taking an even bigger real pay cut. Meanwhile Britain is home to a record number of billionaires.
“People join the fire service because they want to help people and serve their community. We have been pushed to the point of voting by a government that refuses to listen.”
The vote on industrial action comes as research from the FBU and UCLan shows that firefighters with 15 years of service are 1.7 times more likely to develop cancer than those who have served less.
Billy Holland is the FBU Regional Secretary for the West Midlands.
He said: “For us, strike action is the last resort. We still believe that if our members’ pay concerns are addressed, strikes can be avoided.
“We have firefighters who risk their lives every day and struggle to pay their bills. In some cases they even use blackboards. We call on the government to fund a pay rise that not only reflects the cost of living today, but also the contribution we make to society.”
He finished: “Let’s use the government’s own language and say that pay needs to be raised.”
To avoid strikes, the Fire Brigades Union gives the government 10 days to come up with a decent bid.
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