Firefighter Pay- FBU
The economic downturn in 2007-08 saw attacks on workers’ pay across the UK economy, across much of Europe and in other parts of the world. Workers were forced to suffer for an economic crisis we did not create. There was no bail out for working people, but there has been an international drive to lower wages.
Public sector workers have been particularly hard hit. Over 5.4 million people work in the public sector nearly 1 in 5 workers in the UK. The coalition government elected in 2010 imposed a two year pay freeze on public sector workers in 2011-12. This was followed by a 1% cap on the pay of firefighters, nurses, teachers, civil servants and other public sector workers up until this year. Pay offers for Firefighters this year continue to be below inflation and are in real terms another pay cut.
The Fire Brigades Union has commissioned research by Incomes Data Research, pay specialists used by the TUC and employers. We asked them to look specifically at firefighters’ pay. This research found that
- Firefighters’ basic pay increases have been lower than the median pay settlement for the whole economy since 2006. A comparison with private sector pay settlements shows a similar pattern.
- Compared with inflation, firefighters’ basic pay increases have been below inflation since 2007
- on both the consumer price index (CPI) and retail price index (RPI) measures, with the exception of 2009 when RPI inflation was negative.
- In real terms, i.e. adjusted for RPI inflation, firefighters’ pay increases were negative throughout most of the period covered by the research.
When we take into account the high cost of living in the Eastern Region, our Firefighters and Control Staff are amongst those most affected by the period of pay restraint. We now have instances of Firefighters having to use food banks, carry our secondary and tertiary employment to meet child care costs and using credit cards and pay day loans to pay the rent. This is simply unacceptable in a skilled and dangerous profession.
As Firefighters and Control Staff in the East fall further behind inflation, they are now in real terms more than £5,000 worse off than this time in 2010 and have now fallen below the average hourly rate of pay. The wider debate around Firefighter pay is often lost amongst that of pay in the larger sectors.
Therefore, conference instructs all Eastern Labour MPs, Councillors and Candidates to use their platforms to highlight the issue of Firefighter pay and, in conjunction with the FBU, campaign for a fair and proper pay rise for Firefighters and Fire Control Staff.