Tens of thousands of firefighters and control room staff are to be balloted for strikes over pay in the latest outbreak of industrial unrest sweeping the UK.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said 32,500 of its members across Britain would vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action.
The union said the move followed a 2% pay offer in June, which had not been increased despite the soaring rate of inflation.
The offer represented a significant real-terms pay cut, it said.
The ballot is expected to be held in five weeks’ time.
The announcement was made hours before the new prime minister took office, and followed a wave of industrial action this summer by tens of thousands of workers.
The FBU general secretary, Matt Wrack, said: “Taking strike action is always a last resort but our employers are increasingly leaving us with no choice. There is huge anger among firefighters at falling pay.
“Firefighters must be paid fairly – there is absolutely no question when it comes to this. It is the responsibility of fire service employers to provide decent pay offers and that has not happened.
“The ball is now in the fire service employers’ court. It is not too late for them to make a much better pay offer for consideration by our members.”
Firefighters went on strike over pensions almost a decade ago and there was a lengthy strike over pay almost 20 years ago.