Firefighters win 4% pay offer and advances on maternity following talks

Firefighters and fire control staff have been offered a package of pay improvements, including an above-inflation pay rise, improvements to maternity pay, and a large increase to the retainer paid to on-call firefighters.

Pay negotiations have been underway at the National Joint Council (NJC) between the Fire Brigades Union and fire employers for some months.

The offer, which would be binding on all fire and rescue services across the UK, includes:

  • A headline pay increase of 4%. This is above the current rate of CPI inflation, which stands at 3.2%.
  • A minimum maternity pay entitlement of 26 weeks on full pay. This more than doubles the baseline for maternity pay.
  • A 50% increase in the retainer paid to firefighters on the Retained Duty System (RDS) – from a maximum of 10% of basic pay to 15%. This is the first such rise in decades.

The changes will now be put to a ballot of FBU members between 3 May and 17 May. If approved, the headline pay increase will take effect from July 2024, with changes to the retaining fee taking effect in January 2025.

The FBU executive council has unanimously recommended that its members accept the offer.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said:

“This is a step forward for firefighters and control staff, although it obviously does not resolve all issues.

“These concessions are the direct result of hard work and pressure from firefighters and the FBU. I am proud of the work the FBU has done to fight for decent pay, and to raise the profile of maternity pay and of retained firefighters.

“While a 4% pay rise will not undo the damage of 14 years of austerity and attacks on pay, it is a real terms increase.

“Setting the baseline level of maternity pay to 26 weeks on full pay more than doubles the current entitlement.

“And for the first time in decades, we have won a substantial increase to the retainer paid to on-call firefighters.

“Ultimately, employers know that firefighters are prepared to stand together and enter dispute. We will defend our right to strike tooth and nail against authoritarian attempts to curb it.

“The offer also demonstrates the value of collective bargaining. Unlike sectors with so-called ‘independent’ pay review bodies, we sit down with our employers and negotiate.

“Our advice to members is to accept this offer and fight on. With a change of government on the horizon, we will look to restore funding, pay and jobs to the fire and rescue service, and to win 52 weeks’ full pay maternity leave across the board. Our fight for decent pay and conditions for the long term continues”