Firefighters demonstrate outside Scottish Parliament in campaign for better pay and against more cuts

Budget freeze would be ‘devastating’ says union
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Firefighters campaigning for better pay and against cuts in the service are taking their case to the Scottish Parliament today.

Hundreds from all over Scotland are expected to take part in a demonstration at Holyrood from 11am, the biggest protest by firefighters in Scotland for many years.

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Members of the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) are being balloted on a below-inflation five per cent pay offer, with a recommendation from union leaders to reject. Another ballot is then expected on whether to take strike action.

Scottish FBU secretary John McKenzie said the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service had endured a period of austerity ever since 2007 and the Scottish Government’s latest spending plans would mean further cuts.

He said: “The situation in the fire service just now is not good and the potential implication of a five-year budget freeze would be devastating for our sector. Since 2012 we have lost 1100 firefighter jobs in Scotland. The budget has effectively been frozen for that period of time. What the Scottish Government are indicating is that, come the budget in December, they are minded towards freezing the budget of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service for a further four years. That would mean the jobs of hundreds more firefighters throughout Scotland and that is simply unacceptable.

"Since 2010, our members have suffered a real-terms pay cut of £4,000. That’s £4,000 on a salary of £32,000 – it’s a really significant portion. The employers made a two per cent offer in the summer. In the current climate that is absolutely insulting. We consulted with our members and they overwhelmingly rejected that. At the time we were told by the employers that was all they could afford. Subsequently they improved that offer to five per cent. We considered that but ultimately the recommendation is that, given the erosion of our members’ pay over the last decade, that is simply not acceptable in a cost of living crisis.”