News

Derbyshire firefighter strike ‘very likely’ after ‘insulting’ pay offer

today15 September 2022 3

Background
share close

Derbyshire firefighters have said it is “very likely” they will strike at the end of this year as some staff have reportedly been forced to reach out to food banks and charities to feed their families. This comes after staff rejected an “insult” 2% pay increase offer in June.

Now regional Fire Brigade Union (FBU) bosses have said they would be “surprised” if members did not vote to take industrial action after members are balloted for strike action in five week’s time as part of a national dispute over pay and conditions .

They add that you could “count on two hands” the number of those balloted who wanted to accept the pay offer from the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services (NJC).

Chris Tapp, 42, FBU Secretary for Derbyshire and serving firefighter for 21 years, said: “The 2% pay rise offered by the national council is still behind where we should be. We’ve seen pay suppression for more than a decade, and with inflation now rising at such a rapid rate, families are suffering, struggling to get by on a daily basis and are having to reach out to food banks and charities.”

Firefighters’ wages do not differ according to the region in which they serve. Nationally, a trainee is paid annually £24,191, in development £25,198, and a fully trained competent £32,244. Those in higher ranks are paid more, with competent group managers receiving £53,086 and competent area managers £61,667.

But union leaders have emphasised that their efforts are also in aid of lower paid control staff and part-time on-call firefighters, the latter, they say, often called to incidents away from their primary employment.

Read more about Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service



Chris Tapp FBU
Chris Tapp, FBU Secretary for Derbyshire, has served in the fire service for 21 years

Tony Dempsey, 40, FBU Brigade Chair for Derbyshire and serving watch manager at Long Eaton fire station, said: “Historically pay rises for firefighters and control staff have been the same, but that’s slipped now.

“On-call part-time firefighters are also called into fire stations away from their primary employment. It depends on people’s circumstances. Often, for example, firefighters can be for one reason or another the only source of household income.”

Mr Tapp added: “Firefighters have also been doing good work during the pandemic and have gone above and beyond such as supporting vaccination rollout, then they offer us 2%. In effect it’s another pay cut, and firefighters can’t withstand any more.

“We are not asking for anything more than what we are owed over a number of years, and if things don’t change that can only lead to one thing, and that’s strike action. It’s not if or buts or maybes, there will be strike action without a sensible pay off.

“The evolution of the role has also been huge with firefighters taking on new duties. Water rescue, for example, is not a statutory duty, as well as animal rescues. There’s also more work in the community looking at prevention, especially since Grenfell, and the safety of businesses is also paramount. Unfortunately there’s also the issue of marauding terrorism since the horrific actions in USA and in this country with the bombing at Manchester Arena and the London Bridge attack.

“It’s not for me to put on table what we would accept because this is a national negotiation and we’d never be offered what we need if we put a ceiling on it.”

Mr Tapp added that Derbyshire could see strike action in December. He said: “Preparations are in place for a ballot landing somewhere in early October time, possibly mid October. There will then be a period of about a month to return those ballots, and potentially we could see strike action towards the back end of this year.

“It’s disappointing but there’s an opportunity for employers to offer us a fair pay settlement – it also needs full funding from the Home Office and the Treasury. Otherwise the people of Derbyshire would get a reduced service to pay for pay rises.”

Mr Dempsey added: “There has been 12 years of austerity which has seen under inflation pay rises. The reality of situation is that we’re falling behind. Firefighters have to support their families, and I think it’s only right that we get a wage relative to the job we do. For that reason the FBU will be balloting its members.



Tony Dempsey, FBU
Tony Dempsey, FBU Brigade Chair for Derbyshire, is watch manager at Long Eaton fire station

“Nowadays it’s not just summer that brings challenges, now we’re expecting flooding at this time of year off the back of a long dry summer. The summer of course also brings more grass fires, this year they were as bad as I can remember in 20 years.

“I’d say action is very likely. The feeling amongst members is certainly very strong and you can count those in favour of the pay offer on two hands. I would be surprised if we didn’t get a yes vote from the members.”

Cllr Nick Chard, Chair of the National Employers, describes the FBU’s ballot for strike action as “disappointing”. He said: “Our dedicated fire and rescue staff are rightly held in high regard by the public for their tireless efforts to help save lives and prevent fires.

“A pay offer needs to strike the right balance between rewarding hard working fire and rescue employees and affordability; providing a well-deserved pay rise while also protecting critical services and jobs. We recognise the rising cost of living is affecting employees. It is inevitably also impacting on fire and rescue service budgets, for example the rising cost of fuel.

“This move by the Fire Brigades Union is disappointing given the FBU is aware that the National Employers are focused on trying to identify a way to be able to improve upon the original offer, which was based on affordability. The National Employers have been taking, and continue to take, steps to be able to do so. The need to progress at pace has been emphasised to all involved but it will inevitably take time.

“We remain committed to ensuring the challenges facing fire and rescue services are fully understood and they are properly resourced so they can continue to support their employees as much as possible and protect the communities they serve.”

READ NEXT:

Live updates from major police investigation in Derby street

Mum’s tribute to Derby son with a ‘pure soul’ as investigation opens into death

Derby dad living on council estate to face trial for war crimes

Cops who slapped and pinched women’s bottoms in Derby are sacked

HGVs get stuck on Derbyshire roads using car sat-navs

Written by: Admin

Rate it

Previous post

Post comments (0)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


LISTEN WITH YOUR APP

Midlands Radio

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies. 

0%