Rescue service threatens cuts as firefighters to demand “significant” pay rise

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West Yorkshire Fire Service would have to make at least £600,000 worth of cuts a year if firefighters are handed an above-inflation pay increase, it has been claimed.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is still negotiating last year’s pay agreement with the government after the removal of the one per cent cap on public sector pay last September.

After nearly a decade of wage freezes and one per cent rises, firefighters are now demanding a “significant” increase to their pay packets. 

But a report for the West Yorkshire Fire Authority’s Audit Committee says that if workers are given a raise above three per cent then cuts elsewhere in the Service would have to be made.

The report says:  “The removal of the public sector pay cap of one per cent on public sector pay will cause increasing financial pressures for the fire authority.

“It is expected that trade unions will put pressure on employers to increase pay in line with current levels of inflation which currently exceed two per cent.

“Every additional one per cent pay increase over that included within the medium term financial plan would cost the Authority £0.6m per annum which would have to be funded by identifying further efficiency savings.”

Firefighters negotiate pay on a national scale, rather than with the local authority they are directly employed by.

David Williams, the West Yorkshire branch secretary of the FBU called the report’s statement “disappointing” and said that firefighters were willing to take on more responsibilities if they were paid more. 

He said: “I understand that the West Yorkshire Fire Authority are obviously working within constraints but they have got lots of money in reserves, so there is some wriggle room for them there.

“For our part, we’ve said that in medical emergencies where an ambulance can’t get to the scene we will provide life-saving care. We’ve no problem taking on extra work and extra responsibility, but we want paying for it. It’s not fair for us to be providing it for free.

“The Authority should go back to the Government and make that clear.

“Since 2009 we’ve had two years of a zero per cent increase, and the rest of the time it’s been a one per cent increase. We are asking for a significant increase now.”