Firefighters in UK vote to strike for first time since 2003

Firefighters and control room staff have voted to strike over pay Credit: PA

Firefighters and control room staff have voted to strike over pay, the Fire Brigades Union announced.

The union described the vote as a "decisive mandate for strike action".

The ballot counted 88% voting yes on a 73% turnout, with voting taking place from December, 5 and closing on Monday January 30. 

If the strikes go ahead this will be the first nation-wide fire strike over pay since 2003.

Matt Wrack from Fire Brigades Union. Credit: ITV News Central

Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: "Firefighters across the UK have spoken.

"This is an overwhelming vote for strike action against an offer which would mean further significant cuts to real terms wages for firefighters and control room staff.

"They have already lost at least 12% of the value of their pay since 2010. 

"This is an absolute last resort for our members.

"The responsibility for any disruption to services lies squarely with fire service employers and government ministers. 

"Rishi Sunak's government has refused to make funding available for a decent pay offer to firefighters and control staff. 

"Firefighters were among Britain's Covid heroes who kept frontline services going during the pandemic.

"The prime minister has badly misjudged the public mood by imposing pay cuts on key workers.  

"Our members risk their health and safety, and sometimes their lives, round the clock to keep people safe and serve their communities.

"However, with inflation and energy bills rocketing, they are now increasingly struggling to pay the bills or to afford the basics."

Strike dates: All the industrial action happening in February

Ambulance control feels pressure during strikes

In the hope of averting strike action, the Fire Brigades Union has given the government and employers ten days (Thursday, February 9) to create a better offer members will then vote on.

FBU members rejected a below-inflation 5% pay offer in November last year.  

Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, said: “Firefighters run towards danger when the rest of us run away.

“They put their lives and their health at risk to rescue others and they need fair pay and conditions.

“No one, including firefighters themselves, wants a strike.

“It is this Conservative government’s reckless behaviour that has crashed the economy, and their failure to get a grip on inflation means working people are struggling more and more.

“This is their mess to fix.

“It’s up to the home secretary to get around the table and talk. She should be doing everything she possibly can to negotiate a deal and prevent a strike.”