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Issue #1777      May 17, 2017

Firefighters hose down plans

Britain: Firefighters have threatened to extinguish their response to medical emergencies if their wages are not increased beyond the Tories’ derisory pay cap. Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack told conference that all public services are suffering from the government’s stubborn one percent cap on pay.

He pointed to TUC analysis that shows public-sector workers have taken a £2,000 a year dent in their wages since 2010. But an FBU-commissioned study by Incomes Data Research, which looked specifically at firefighters’ pay, showed they have lost as much as £5,000.

Wrack said these findings, alongside the extra work firefighters are carrying out by responding to medical emergencies, “lay the basis for a strong evidence-based case for improved pay.” He said: “We think we can make the strongest pay claim in years.”

However, Mr Wrack was not hopeful that the national pay body will budge on the cap when it comes to decide a settlement on July 1.

Firefighters are currently carrying out trials helping with the work of paramedics and ambulance response crews.

But they voted to refuse to continue this additional work, known as emergency medical response trials, unless they get a rise beyond one percent.

“If the offer made is for one percent then the agreement on those trials will cease,” Wrack vowed. “There are appalling pressures on members under those trials. We will give notice that the trials will not proceed and our members will no longer be obliged to take on any emergency response work.

“We will be very disappointed if that happens. If that’s what happens it will not be the fault of the union but fire service employers.”

Cambridgeshire’s Cameron Matthews said: “We’ve been fair and reasonable with the trials. Let’s hope employers treat front-line firefighters with the respect they deserve.”

Delegates heard the role of those working in emergency control centres across the country is “extremely stressful and demanding” – and is expanding.

They called on the union to conduct a review into their pay rates to bring them in line with front-line staff.

Dorset & Wiltshire’s Hamish Daya said: “Work of control is of equal value. No lives are rescued without control. If we are a progressive union we should not accept pay disparity.”

Morning Star

Next article – Reconfiguring the state

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