Hundreds of Shropshire firefighters to vote over strike action after pay offer rejected

More than 700 firefighters in Shropshire and Mid Wales will decide on whether to vote for strike action after a five per cent pay rise was rejected.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) chiefs turned down the increase and deemed it "absolutely disgusting" as they reiterated calls for a boost in line with inflation.

Members across the area are now set to be balloted in the coming weeks. If they vote in favour it will be the first national strike over pay since 2003.

The industrial action would affect 136 full-time firefighters at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, 53 retained firefighters and nine control room staff. A further 350 full-time firefighters, 191 retained firefighters and 23 control staff at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service are set to be balloted.

Andrew Scattergood, executive council member for the West Midlands in the union, said: "Strike action is always the last resort, it's something every firefighter wants to avoid. But over 10 years of pay restraint has resulted in a real-terms pay cut for firefighters.

"We've got firefighters using food banks, they are choosing between heating and eating over the Christmas period and the pay offer they've made does not address these concerns. It's important that the Government recognises the cuts that they have made and how they've impacted on the fire service – it has impacted on our ability to respond (to incidents) and it's impacted on staff too."

Fire services are partly funded through money raised via council tax and a central Government grant which has been "reduced every year", Mr Scattergood said.

The region's senior fire boss added any worthwhile pay offer would be submitted to the members to decide on, with the union being a "democratic" organisation.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack added: "We have firefighters using food banks. Our members worked through the pandemic to help protect their communities, taking on extra duties to do so.

"A further real-terms pay cut is an absolutely disgusting way to thank them. There is still an opportunity to resolve this dispute and we will be writing to fire ministers and Government departments across the UK requesting urgent meetings."

The industrial action would also affect 1,334 whole-time firefighters at West Midlands Fire Service and a further 47 firefighter control staff, the union confirmed.

And it will have an impact on 242 whole-time firefighters working for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service alongside a further 123 who are retained firefighters.

Voting will start on Monday, December 5, and end on January 23 next year.

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