Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/283/24423
Support the firefighters
Wage War On Low Pay
BLAIR IS preparing to wage war in Iraq and at home. While resisting the firefighters' wholly justified pay claim he is preparing to spend up to £5 billion on sending troops to invade Iraq.
He tells teachers and other public sector workers in London that they cannot have any meaningful increase in their London weighting allowance but he spends millions on sending the biggest task force of royal navy ships to Iraq since the Gulf War in 1991.
Blair ignores all public opposition to war. 58% think getting rid of Saddam is not a good enough reason to go to war.
He accuses the FBU of being prepared to wreck the economy by refusing to accept cuts and job losses while he oversees the increasing collapse of manufacturing industry and the biggest trade deficit ever.
Despite Blair's best efforts, support for the firefighters has remained solid amongst workers who understand that a victory for the firefighters is in the interests of all those fighting against low pay, privatisation and to defend public services.
For all his bravado and arrogance, Blair doesn't want to fight on two fronts at once. We need to build maximum solidarity with the firefighters as well as campaigning to stop this war for oil.
Blair's support for Bush and his opposition to the firefighters and other groups of public sector workers could be his undoing. But we don't want to get rid of Blair only to find that he is replaced with Gordon Brown or any other pro-big business politicians.
It's time to replace New Labour with a genuine mass workers' party based on the trade unions and the working class as a whole - a party that could fight for the rights of all workers and for a socialist alternative to low pay and war.
Join the Socialist Party and campaign with us in the unions, communities and amongst young people to build that alternative.
"We have been fighting a campaign over the last four or five years to defend our conditions, our pensions and the service.
"They've been after our conditions for a while and trying to close fire stations and cut the service. But now people understand that the government is directly attacking our union and our jobs.
"We need to call on other public-sector workers to come out in our support but also to support themselves.
We should come out together. If the government up the ante then we will as well."
Billy Carruthers, London firefighter
In The Socialist 17 January 2003:
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