Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/17887
Firefighters' strike: Angry pickets in Leeds
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
Firefighters held a further two stoppages of four hours each time on Friday and Saturday as part of their ongoing dispute over changes to pensions. This is one amongst a number of attacks on the fire service, including savage cuts to jobs, stations and the number of fire appliances.
On the picket line in Gipton on the Friday night, pickets were burning with anger at the news that MPs will get a 11% pay rise at a time of pay freezes and other attacks throughout the public sector. As one picket commented: "Have you heard how they're justifying this? They say that it won't cost anything due to reductions to their pensions. Well we're having our pensions cut and I haven't seen an 11% pay increase for us!"
Locally a whole number of petty attacks by the fire service management have further angered strikers. Firefighters in Castleford have been locked out of their homes on fire service property, and the Yorkshire Evening Post ran a story about the service being in the middle of a ten-year freeze on recruiting new full-time firefighters.
Whilst the mood amongst pickets was undoubtedly one of feeling the need to be on strike because they have to try to stand up for their jobs and pensions, increasingly firefighters are worried about the future of this vital public service which the axe-wielders in national and local government seem hell-bent on razing to the ground.