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Posted on 19 July 2013 at 15:33 GMT

London FBU demonstration against cuts, 18.7.13, photo J Beishon

London FBU demonstration against cuts, 18.7.13, photo J Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

London: Setback for Tory fire cuts

Hundreds of firefighters from all over London and beyond marched through central London yesterday, from the Monument that marks the Fire of London, to the headquarters of the London Fire Brigade where the London fire authority was meeting.

London FBU demonstration against cuts, 18.7.13, photo J Beishon

London FBU demonstration against cuts, 18.7.13, photo J Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

Despite a vote of 94% against the cuts plans in a public consultation, Tory mayor Boris Johnson wanted to press ahead with the closure of 10 fire stations and the loss of 14 fire engines and 552 jobs.

This was itself a step back from the original plan to close 12 stations, cut 18 engines and 520 jobs.

Under the pressure of the campaign, the fire authority voted once again to reject Johnson's plans. Only the Tory group supported the cuts.

London FBU demonstration assembling at the Monument, 18.7.13, photo J Beishon

London FBU demonstration; assembling at the Monument, 18.7.13, photo J Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

It now falls to Boris Johnson to overrule the fire authority in order to implement the cuts.

He has done this before, however. The authority voted against the original plan but Johnson still put it out to public consultation.

This is another important step in the battle, but to ensure the plans are defeated for good, firefighters need to be prepared to step up their campaign from the very important public meetings and demonstrations to also use their industrial muscle if necessary.

As the Socialist Party leaflet at the demo said: "The FBU in London has rightly striven to win public support with leafleting, local public meetings and local demos.

"It has raised the idea of occupying stations if the cuts go ahead. We argue that the greatest strength firefighters have, alongside communities, is their own strength as organised workers, and that their strategy should include the threat of strike action.

"This would be very popular amongst workers sick of facing attack after attack, especially given the public campaigning firefighters have already conducted."

Paula Mitchell
Socialist Party stall at the Monument, 18.7.13, photo J Beishon

Socialist Party stall at the Monument, 18.7.13, photo J Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

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