Second jobs have ‘almost become a necessity now for a lot of firefighters’, says activist

Firefighter Paul Embery said he and his colleagues have in effect been offered another pay cut

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Details of the problems many are suffering comes as the Fire Brigades Union opened a ballot on strike action today after rejecting a “derisory” 5% pay offer.

The Fire Brigades Union rejected a “derisory” 5% pay offer.
The Fire Brigades Union rejected a “derisory” 5% pay offer.

Speaking to GB News firefighter Paul Embery said: “I can say, as somebody who has taken strike action before as a firefighter, that it's an agonising decision. You don't join the fire service to withdraw your labour, you join the fire service to protect people.

“We need to look at the facts and as far as firefighters are concerned, at the moment, they're being treated extremely unfairly. Over the last decade, they've lost something like £4,000 a year in real wages.

“And this time, we're being asked to take another significant real term pay cut at a time when firefighters, like everybody else across the country, are really struggling to make ends meet.

He told Stephen Dixon and Isabel Webster: “I’ve been a firefighter for 25 years and this is the first time that I've had colleagues say to me they can't afford to buy their kids Christmas presents, they're struggling to pay their mortgage bills, their energy bills, etc.

“So it's a decision that none of us want to take but when you consider the paltry pay offer that's been tabled, we've really been left with no other option, frankly.”

Paul Embery joined Isabel and Stephen on Breakfast
Paul Embery joined Isabel and Stephen on Breakfast

Asked if firefighters had second jobs, he said: “Certainly some people do. That's true. People feel they need those second jobs in order to increase their income, in order to be able to give themselves and their families a decent standard of living.

“I know firefighters, for example, who in addition to the 42 hours a week they do contractually for the fire service, go out and do another job. And sometimes they're working 80 hours a week.

“Some of them are working six or seven days a week.”

“No firefighter actually wants to do that. They do that because, first and foremost they want to increase their income and particularly during an acute cost of living crisis where, as I said earlier, people really are struggling to pay their bills.

“That's almost become a necessity now for a lot of firefighters.”