FIRE BRIGADES Union (FBU) members are outraged at the employers' response to their pay claim. The body representing the employers last week rejected the union's call for a new pay formula that would increase the pay of firefighters to £30,000, with comparable increases for control room staff.
The employers said they did not accept the case for parity between workers on fire stations and in control rooms, even though both groups are vital to running the fire service. And the best they could come up with was to offer an inquiry into fire service pay.
There were three official inquiries into fire brigade pay in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They left pay at a level where many firefighters were dependent on benefits. It took the first ever national fire brigade strike, in 1977, to bring substantial pay rises.
There is increasing determination among FBU members to vote to strike if the employers do not back down. Last Monday fire brigade management in London tried to obstruct a BBC report into the problems firefighters have finding somewhere to live in the capital.
The BBC had wanted to film a firefighter at Islington station in north London who has to commute every day from Bedford. But Rita Dexter, the brigade's director of corporate services, refused permission for the camera crew to set foot in the station.