TYNE AND WEAR FIRE: Call for firefighter pay boost
Firefighters should get a pay rise to recognise their work during the coronavirus pandemic, North East leaders have said.
More than a million NHS staff are in line for wage boosts, according to the government’s latest spending plans.
But ministers are facing calls for budgets to be redrawn to include increases for millions more public sector workers who have played key roles in the fight against COVID-19.
“The government has said all public sector workers, apart from those in the NHS, should expect a pay freeze,” said Nick Forbes, vice chairman of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority.
“I think that is profoundly unfair.
“Our firefighters have been on the front line, continue to be on the front line, have gone beyond their usual job scope and are really playing an active role in supporting our communities through tough times.
“And they will continue to do so as we roll out testing and vaccinations and move on to the economic recovery phase.”
Cllr Forbes, who is also leader of Newcastle City Council, was speaking at this morning’s (Monday, January 25) meeting of the fire authority, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
The Chancellor’s Autumn Spending Review included a pay freeze for most public sector workers, although those earning less than £24,000 a year are due to receive a fixed annual increase of £250.
Doctors and nurses are among the NHS staff expected to be exempt from the wider public sector pay freeze.
But some health industry bodies, such as the Royal College of Nursing have opposed this, insisting other sectors ‘deserve a pay boost as much as their NHS colleagues’.
Concerns have also been raised over wider fire service funding, with concerns income from business rates and council tax contributions will not match government expectations.
Cllr Forbes was backed by Wayne Anderson, Tyne and Wear brigade secretary for the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), who also suggested it should be extended to include all public sector staff who have worked on the pandemic’s front line.
He said: “The FBU echoes Cllr Forbes’s words, a long overdue pay rise would be more than welcome and more than deserved.”
Words: James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporter
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