Firefighters rallied in London in December (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Firefighters and control room staff have become the latest group of workers to enter the pay revolt, with a resounding vote to strike. In a ballot that ended on Monday, members of the FBU union voted by 88 percent to strike, on a turnout of 73 percent.

They had already shown they were up for the fight in two consultations by the FBU last year. Fire brigade bosses have offered them a pay increase of just 5 percent—less than half the rate of inflation. That follows more than a decade of similar real-terms pay cuts, leaving them some 12 percent worse off than they were in 2010.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said the result was “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.”

The strike vote comes as some half a million education, civil service, rail and other workers are set to strike over pay on Wednesday. The factors driving the firefighters’ strike vote—struggling with rising prices, and bitterness after working through the pandemic—will be familiar to those walking out.

“Firefighters were among Britain’s Covid heroes who kept frontline services going during the pandemic,” said Wrack. “With inflation and energy bills rocketing, they are now increasingly struggling to pay the bills or to afford the basics.”

And, with fire authorities’ funding ultimately coming from the government, he laid the blame at Tory prime minister Rishi Sunak’s feet. “Rishi Sunak’s government has refused to make funding available for a decent pay offer to firefighters and control staff,” Wrack said.

“The prime minister has badly misjudged the public mood by imposing pay cuts on key workers.” He added that Sunak and fire bosses have “the power to stop strikes by making a credible offer.”

And, he said, the FBU will not announce any strikes for at least ten days to allow bosses to respond. FBU members shouldn’t accept anything less than a pay offer at least in line with inflation—currently at 13.4 percent.

The best way to win that is by joining the growing numbers of other workers fighting over pay and adding to the crisis for the Tory government. And, with workers already set for united strikes this week, there’s no better time than to announce action than now.

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