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FIREFIGHTERS have demanded a proper pay rise to make ends meet after years of real-terms wage cuts.
Delegates attending the Fire Brigades Union’s (FBU) 2022 conference in Brighton backed a motion today that called on the union to adopt a new direction in pay negotiations after workers received a below-inflation pay award of 1.5 per cent last year.
Firefighter George White told members: “Pay affects us now in our wages and later on in our pensions.
“We do need a proper pay rise, and we need it now.”
The Cambridge delegate expressed frustration that the FBU had “not acted” on a pay motion passed at 2019’s conference, before the Covid-19 pandemic saw the next two in-person meetings cancelled.
Today’s resolution, which demanded a report on progress before next year’s conference, instructed the FBU’s executive council to devise a new pay strategy focusing on key areas, including worsening environmental emergencies such as flooding.
Members also backed two motions that condemned the growing prevalence of underpaid firefighters being called out to assist with non-emergency slips, trips and falls in the social care and patient transport sectors, which have been badly hit by more than a decade of Tory austerity.
The motions were opposed by the executive, which argued it was already the union’s position to refuse such work.
The union’s members are not trained to deal with the “distinct, separate and highly skilled” work of those in social care and post-hospital patient aftercare, the motions stressed.
Negotiations on any work that requires firefighters to intervene in such “inappropriate” tasks must end, they said.
West Midlands delegate Alice Williams warned against the “expensive glorified taxi service.” She said: “The idea was that vulnerable people would be safely transported to their homes and be given safety advice by phone.
“In reality, we had the examples of an American couple being driven back to their hotel room after a hospital visit during their holiday, and well-meaning hospital staff being rushed off their feet and using the service as a quick, easy way to get people off their books.
“Post-hospital transport needs investment and planning: it doesn’t need firefighters playing taxi drivers,” she declared, to rapturous applause in the hall.
Scotland member John McKenzie highlighted that his colleagues did not want to take work away from social care workers, some of the “lowest paid staff in the country.”
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