The following statement was released on June 24:
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, responding to the announcement that the UK has voted to leave the European Union, said: “The Westminster government must respect the outcome of yesterday’s referendum and take action to implement it.
“The resignation of David Cameron will not be mourned by firefighters or other workers – indeed it would be better if the entire government resigned. Since 2010, Cameron has overseen a programme to drive down wages and to slash funding for public services. As a result, wages and living standards have stagnated, public services are in a critical condition and we face a growing housing crisis. This has been the background to the referendum debate.
“Within the fire and rescue service, we have suffered a disgraceful attack on firefighters’ pension rights, on public sector pay and have had imposed the worst cuts to our service in history.
“Trade unions must now fight to ensure that workers do not pay the price for any political or economic turmoil which follows the vote. The Westminster government need to give assurances that employment rights, safety rights, part-time workers’ rights and anti-discrimination rights will be protected for UK workers. They must also protect jobs that will be at risk as a result of economic turbulence following the vote.
“Any attempt to introduce an emergency budget that further attacks public services or seeks to increase taxes on working people, must be opposed by the trade union movement and the Labour Party.
“Trade unions must campaign on the basis of unity. We have to ensure that any debate around immigration does not scapegoat migrant workers, which includes thousands of people who deliver our NHS and work in our fire and rescue service. Where others want division, we must answer with unity and solidarity.
“To workers across the UK we say, whether you voted Leave or Remain, we must stand together in defence of jobs, our rights and public services.”