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Sirens wail at parliament as firies fight for new deal

There was no fire but plenty of sirens as firefighters descended on the NSW parliament to raise the alarm over stalled negotiations for a major pay rise.

As part of an escalating push for a new award, the Fire Brigade Employees Union rallied outside the state seat of power in a bid to pressure the Labor government that the union says it helped elect.

Buses brought firefighters from the Central Coast and Wollongong to take part in the protest.

"We are here to negotiate, but we have to force them to the table and unfortunately this is what we have to do to make that happen," the union's state secretary, Leighton Drury, said on Wednesday.

Members were seeking a wage rise of 20 per cent over three years, he said, but what the union really wanted was an offer to be put on the table so negotiations could begin.

"They've certainly put a few things on the table in a very brief way, unfortunately that will take months to negotiate," Mr Drury said.

"Really, what we're after is a headline wage so we can start moving forward."

The union has also been lobbying for an expansion of workers' compensation entitlements for cancer-diagnosed firefighters.

NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union state secretary Leighton Drury.
NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union state secretary Leighton Drury at a rally outside NSW parliament. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Members marched up Macquarie St with sirens wailing and horns blaring loud enough to penetrate the parliamentary chambers within.

"Yes, we heard them," Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib told parliament during Question Time.

"We want an award that is modern, that is fair and that is sustainable," he said, noting that negotiations were ongoing.

Mr Dib also hosed down opposition criticism, accusing critics of crying crocodile tears.

"I love that all of a sudden they've remembered the workers," he said.

Shadow treasurer Damien Tudehope was at the rally in the morning, later telling the upper house that "not one person from the government was prepared to talk to the union".

The negotiations had been all talk and no action and were emblematic of the way the government operated, he said.

Fire and Rescue NSW trucks outside state parliament.
Fire and Rescue NSW trucks outside state parliament. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

The firefighters' campaign escalated after a meeting on Thursday ended with Fire and Rescue NSW being unable to provide a wage offer, the union said.

In a statement, Mr Dib said firefighters received their biggest pay rise in over a decade in October, when they were given a 4.5 per cent increase after the previous coalition government's wage cap was scrapped.

The pay rise formed part of a one-year agreement forged when their award expired under the former government in February 2023, he said.

But opposition emergency services spokesman Gurmesh Singh said the government should not be surprised that firefighters wanted a similar deal to teachers and paramedics after setting high expectations before the election.

"The fact that hard-working personnel have had to take time out of their day to roll up to parliament and call for action, is proof that they aren't feeling heard," he said.