We will be arranging branch meeting to discuss the following over the next 2 weeks. Please attend.
A four year pay settlement offered to firefighters has today been deemed inadequate by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) who say it fails to address the concerns of members.
While the firefighters’ union acknowledges that the move is the first public sector pay offer to breach the 1% pay cap, they say the offer fails to take into account the extra work firefighters have taken on in recent years, including responding to new types of terror attacks and medical emergencies.
The Fire & Rescue Services National Employers has offered a settlement that would give firefighters a 2% basic pay increase from July this year and a potential further 3% increase in April 2018, with the door open for further increases in 2018, 2019 and 2020, but with no guarantees set out. Any payment for a 2017 settlement needs to be paid earlier and within the same year, say the FBU.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Firefighters have endured seven years of pay restraint imposed by the government. Their real wages are falling and our members are struggling to make ends meet. Firefighters have, in addition, taken on many new roles that are not being recognised in their pay.
“It is sickening to hear politicians praising firefighters for the outstanding work they do every day of their working lives only to be told they have to tighten their belts as a result of economic problems caused by bankers.
“This offer demonstrates that the 1% cap is dead in the water but the offer from our employers is simply not enough. It does not recognise the extra work firefighters have been doing, it fails to address their falling living standards and, despite hints at improvements, does not make clear what they will be earning in future years. This offer lacks detail and credibility”.
Pay in the fire and rescue service is not covered by a pay review body but is subject to collective bargaining through the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services (NJC).
FBU members will now consider the offer at local meetings. The union’s executive council will meet again on 24 July to discuss the results of this consultation.
Employers’ proposals on pay
The Executive Council met yesterday and received a proposal on pay from the fire service employers. It is important to note that this is the first proposal on pay within the public sector which does not apply a 1% cap to a proposal for an annual pay rise. The Executive Council acknowledged this movement. The Executive Council also recognised that the proposal opened the door to a further increase for 2017 and for the years beyond that – although no figures were attached in relation to 2018, 2019 and 2020. In the light of this, the Executive Council concluded that the proposal did not address the concerns which the union has raised through our claim.
The issue of pay is one for FBU members to decide and, in accordance with our policy, there will now be a period of consultation with members. As part of this process, all branchesshould meet and should ensure consultation with all members. Brigade officials will ensure the returns from this discussion will be collated and reported to Regional Committees. The Executive Council will meet on 24 July to consider the outcome.
The position and recommendation agreed by the Executive Council is set out below:
2017 Proposals on Pay
The Executive Council has received the attached proposal from the employers on NJC pay and conditions.
The policy of the FBU, agreed by Conference, is that this matter must now be subject to consultation with members. Members must be given 21 days to consider the employers proposal. The Executive Council will consider the result of this on 24 July in order to meet the 21 days requirement.
The Executive Council has considerable concerns with the proposal from the employers and recommends to members that, in its current form, is not acceptable.
The Executive Council:
1. Welcomes the acknowledgement by the fire service employers that firefighters deserve to be paid more and the departure from the previous approach to pay.
2. Welcomes the acceptance by the employers that a 1% pay offer is not viable and would not be acceptable to FBU members.
3. Welcomes the commitment from the employers to lobby governments across the UK for funding to ensure the viability of the fire and rescue service, including the new areas of work discussed by the National Joint Council.
4. Believes that the proposal presented so far does not adequately address the concerns of FBU members.
5. In particular, the idea of a payment for 2017 (the proposed Stage 2 payment) being delayed until April 2018 is not acceptable. The payment of any further increase for 2017 must be implemented earlier and during 2017.
6. Equally, a delay in resolving other major issues – including the pay settlements for 2018, 2019 and 2020 – is not acceptable. The settlement of pay increases for 2018, 2019 and 2020 must also be agreed at a far earlier stage – and by no later than the end of November 2017- a date identified by the FBU re-call conference in March 2017.
We seek the urgent response from the employers while our consultation with members takes place. As a part of this consultation we recommend to members that, if the concerns we have raised are not addressed, we will conclude that the employers do not wish to progress with the joint initiatives agreed through the NJC and the NJC trials will therefore cease.