British firefighters postpone strikes after new offer

By - Reuters

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LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - British firefighters postponed strike action to vote on an improved pay offer, the Fire Brigades Union said on Thursday, giving some relief to the government after a wave of walkouts across multiple sectors caused widespread disruption.

The FBU said the new pay offer for firefighters was for a 7% rise backdated to July last year and for another 5% increase from July 1 this year. The union will now ballot its members on the new offer.

Pay disputes have been raging in Britain since last summer, causing hundreds of thousands of workers to strike after inflation hit more than 10%, its highest level for four decades.

Britain's healthcare system was hit by its

worst ever strike

earlier this week. The previous week teachers and railway workers had walked out.

The government has resisted awarding pay rises in line with inflation saying it would be unaffordable and in turn further fuel price rises.

The FBU said while the new offer would boost wages it still amounted to a real terms pay cut.

"Frontline firefighters and control room staff will make the decision on whether this pay offer is considered a real improvement," the FBU said.

Should they reject the new offer, the strikes will be back on, it said. (Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar and Sarah Young, Editing by Paul Sandle and Kate Holton)