Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/303/13766
Firefighters' Battle For A Living Wage And To Save The Fire Service
Reject The Deal!
THERE WILL be a third special FBU conference in Glasgow on 12 June, to discuss the latest offer. The London region of the union is recommending rejection of this offer, which will be discussed at branch meetings this week.
Bill Mullins, Socialist Party industrial organiser
This follows the last special conference where the leadership managed to get the majority of delegates to agree to go into negotiations with the employers on the Burchill proposals.
In a special bulletin, the London region outline why they think this should be rejected. It points out that pay rises "beyond 4% are dependent upon implementation of cuts" it also says that there is no concrete pay formula on the table "beyond 2006".
It points out that the agreement endorses at national level the "end of national standards for fire cover" (ie the arrangement which stops the closure of fire stations and the reduction of staff in effect without the union's agreement).
But the national union also warns of the need at the same time to fight these IRMP proposals (see right) at a local level.
A number of other points about the agreement are also made and the bulletin concludes with the statement that the: "Deal does not provide the sort of detail or guarantees that FBU members require".
Many firefighters after a year long struggle, where twice as many planned strike days were cancelled as actually took place are understandably looking forward to the end of the dispute and the re-establishment of some sort of stability into their working lives.
But it is also clear the government and the local authority employers will use this deal, if it is accepted, to attempt to push through major changes to the way the fire service is run.
This would all be to the firefighters' detriment.
The proposals are a recipe for localised struggles and the danger is that without a national fight, some will be won and some won't. If that is the case, as other groups of workers have found, the employers will try to make lower conditions in some areas the norm for all firefighters.
Of course if the deal were to be accepted, the union must strive to maintain unity in the struggle against any threatened cuts.
However, the deal should be rejected and the campaign for a living wage should be restarted.
In The Socialist 7 June 2003: