Union warns firefighters may ‘feel forced’ to take strike action

Firefighters may “feel forced” to take strike action in an ongoing dispute over pay, union leaders have warned.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) are currently being balloted on strike action after recently rejecting a 5% pay increase.

In the union’s previous indicative ballot, 78% of FBU members voted, with 79% of those rejecting the offer.

Firefighter pay is currently negotiated on a UK-wide basis.

John McKenzie, Scottish secretary of the FBU, warned strike action is the next step in the ongoing dispute.

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“Our members know the potential implications of taking that action,” he told BBC’s Reporting Scotland.

“It’s something they do really reluctantly but they’ve seen their pay eroded for over a decade now.

“That just can’t continue. That reflects itself in not only the ability of the service they can provide and the number of firefighters we have on the ground.

“There’s been a significant erosion of public services, and particularly the fire service, for a number of years now, so our members feel backed into a corner.

“It’s not something they want to do, but it’s something they feel forced to do.”

Mr McKenzie said the union would wait for the outcome of any ballot before making any further decisions on what strike action would look like.

The last strike by firefighters was in 2002 when the army stepped in to cover services with their distinctive Green Goddess vehicles.

Throughout 2022, strikes among public-sector workers have been a common sight, with teachers, university lecturers and council workers among those to down tools.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said firefighter pay is negotiated and set by the National Joint Council at a UK level.

The Scottish Government is not part of negotiations but encouraged all sides to agree on a “sustainable and fair” settlement.