Firefighters converge on Westminster as they ballot to strike over pay

Over 2,000 firefighters and control staff from across the UK assembled in Westminster on Tuesday to protest low pay after their strike ballot opened on 5 December. 

MPs including Zarah Sultana and Jeremy Corbyn addressed the crowds inside Methodist Central Hall near Parliament Square, alongside FBU general secretary Matt Wrack and several FBU officials and members.

After the rally firefighters and control staff marched to Parliament to lobby their MPs on the issue of pay.

Firefighters and control staff received a 5 per cent pay offer, which would constitute a significant real-terms pay cut with annual CPI inflation currently at 11.1 per cent Fire Brigades Union members voted to rejected this pay offer, with 79 per cet voting against it in a consultative ballot.

The strike ballot will close on Monday 30 January.

Speaking to the crowds, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said, “You’ve turned out in your hundreds and hundreds and hundreds. I think that demonstrates the anger that is out there. They have found 45 billion in tax cuts to give away to millionaires, but they will tell you that there’s no money for pay, that there’s no money for the fire and rescue service. Corporations enjoy record profits, some people get richer and richer and richer, and they tell us there’s no money.”

If a national strike were to take place, it would be the first national strike since pension action between 2013 and 2015 (which did not include control), and the first on pay since 2002-2003.

Photo credit: Mark Thomas