Firefighters covering Milton Keynes and Aylesbury expected to strike after unanimously rejected pay offer
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has begun preparation for strike action, officials revealed at the overview and audit committee for Bucks Fire and Rescue Service this week.
Previously, the union has labelled the two percent offer as “utterly inadequate” highlighting the fact the increase falls way short of the record 9.1 percent inflation rate in the UK.
Bucks Fire and Rescue Service chief executive, Jason Thelwell, said: “The issue of pay has been building for years.
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"Firefighters in my eyes are falling behind other public sector workers.
"I fully expect unless a renewed offer is tabled of a substantial nature, I fully expect there to be industrial action from the Fire Brigades Union this year in September and October.
"We are hurdling towards a firefighters strike. The root cause of this is the lack of investment and ability of fire authorities to pay.
"This authority will be capped at two percent precept rises and our ability to pay anything above that will mean a reduction in service.
"In my view firefighter’s pay needs to be underwritten by the Government, there needs to be a way of funding firefighter’s pay now and in the future.
"Most of the underspend is in back office staff, we struggle to recruit back office staff, mainly due to pay.
"We can only afford to pay a two percent precept, we can’t borrow council tax to pay for it. And the Government will not fund it at the moment.”
The recent heatwave and climate change fears going forward highlighted the value of the emergency service.
Just last week London Fire Brigade recorded its busiest day since the Second World War.
While a major incident was recorded in Walnut Tree when an out-of-control blaze led to a mass evacuation of one Milton Keynes neighbourhood.
Councillor Robin Stuchbury added: “It’s not just about pay it is about resources period, and it is about time that [the Government] stepped up to the plate.”
During the same meeting Councillor Emily Darlington said: “Two percent is actually a pay cut for anyone working in the fire service.
"And we are already aware that people before then were struggling with household bills also going up.
"And the last thing they want to see is the same story as hospitals where food banks are being set up in situ.
"This is not just a Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire issue, we need to be coming together as fire authorities and sending a message to the Government that this is not sustainable.
"When you talk about the fire service you talk about it costing lives ultimately.
"With climate change meaning that our periods of heat are going up in the summer, our periods of flooding in the winter are going to go up.
"This is a really, really serious issue, and I don’t think our lone voice will be enough to change minds.
"I do think we need to come together as fire authorities across the country.”