Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will travel to Westminster for a demonstration and lobby of MPs today (6 December) to mark the start of a ballot for strikes.
Firefighters and control staff rejected a 5% pay offer and more than 33,000 firefighters and control room staff have started voting on whether to strike over pay in the new year - voting on industrial action began on Monday (5 December).
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members have been asked if they want to take industrial action over a “derisory” 5% pay rise. Members took part in the vote where 79% voted to reject the 5% offer, with 78% of eligible Fire Brigades Union members voting in the ballot.
The FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Strike action will always be a last resort but we are running out of options.
“Many firefighters and control staff are desperate. Some are struggling to afford to live. It is a dreadful and very serious state of affairs. We are doing everything we can to secure a decent offer. We have held talks with and written letters to many different parties, but no such pay offer has been forthcoming.
“It is the responsibility of fire service employers and governments to pay their staff properly. That is part of their responsibility of running the fire and rescue service. We look forward to receiving a pay offer from them that addresses the cost-of-living crisis firefighters and control staff are living through.
“We have been mandated by our members to fight for pay that they can live on, and will do that.”
If the firefighters go on strike, it would be another public sector walking out in the so-called winter of discontent. Ambulance workers and nurses are just some of the professions taking to industrial action to protest pay and working conditions.
Brave firefighters have had to tackle increasing numbers of wildfires this summer in incredible heat, as the UK had its hottest day on record. In the capital, the London Fire Brigade had its busiest day since the Second World War as the mercury hit over 40C.
What dates could the firefighter strikes be on?
The Fire Brigades Union ballot closes on January 30, so there won’t be any walk outs until at least 7 February - as unions have to give a minimum of seven days notice. It is likely they would be later in the month, as the ballots would have to be counted.
When was the last firefighters’ strike?
If a national strike is held, it would be the first of its kind since pension action between 2013 and 2015 and the first on pay since 2002-2003.