A 2% pay offer rejected by firefighters was the best that could be made given the “serious funding challenges” fire authorities face, employers have said.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union were consulted on the proposed deal, which broke the Government’s cap on public sector pay.
The union said a lack of clarity in the employers’ proposals, uncertainty about funding arrangements and concerns about the details of some new areas of work all contributed to members deciding not to accept the offer.
Nick Chard, who chairs the employers group, said firefighters deserved a pay rise, especially as their work is “broadened”, adding: “Our offer of a 2% pay rise was dependent upon the continuation of current wider work trials, which includes assisting people experiencing cardiac arrests.
“This was the best offer we could make, especially given the serious funding challenges fire authorities find themselves facing. It is also essential that our fire and rescue services continue to be developed to serve our communities in as comprehensive a way as possible.
“Whilst the FBU commitment to engaging in further discussion on broadening the role is welcome and we are happy to do so, it is deeply disappointing that the FBU has rejected our offer and at the same time decided to withdraw from the national agreement on such trials.
“We had wanted to be able to increase pay for our employees by 2% now while we work together with the FBU and UK governments to achieve further significant increases in pay and add even greater value to communities.
“Its decision to stop the work undertaken through the trials will inevitably impact upon our ability to secure additional funding.
“We therefore call on the FBU to revisit its decision to withdraw its members from the areas of work being trialled and continue this crucial work, which is helping save and improve lives, while negotiations continue.”
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: “Firefighters, along with all other public sector workers, have suffered hugely as a result of the Government’s pay policy.
“The offer fails to clearly address the pain our members have experienced as a result of years of falling real wages.”