Hundreds of firefighters protest at Holyrood over pay

Hundreds of firefighters protest at Holyrood over pay

Hundreds of firefighters have gathered outside the Scottish Parliament to call for increased pay and staffing.

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Members of the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) are being balloted on a 5% pay offer - which union leaders are recommending they reject.

Another ballot is expected to take place on strike action if firefighters refuse the offer.

The Scottish government has said pay for firefighters is negotiated through UK-wide bargaining arrangements.

However, it added that it had provided a further £9.5m this year to support fire service delivery and modernisation.

Scottish FBU secretary John McKenzie said: "Our members risk their lives every day keeping the communities and people of Scotland safe. Taking strike action is always a last resort but we are being left with no choice."

The demonstration outside Holyrood drew about 500 firefighters from across the country, most wearing their uniform jackets.

The FBU said it was a "massive show strength" from members and a demonstration of the anger felt at the "insulting" pay offer made by their employers.

Speaking to BBC Scotland, Mr McKenzie said a potential five-year budget freeze would be devastating for the fire service.

"Since 2012, we have lost 1,100 firefighter jobs in Scotland. The budget in real terms has effectively been frozen for that period of time," he said.

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