Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/277/24480
Support the Firefighters
- For the full claim. £30,000 without strings.
- Solidarity with the FBU.
- For a one-day public sector strike for a living wage.
THE GLOVES are off in the FBU's battle with the government for decent pay.
Sir George Bain's interim report for the fire service has 'offered' 4% now and 7% next year. The FBU leadership has immediately rejected this as 'derisory and insulting', saying it will be greeted with 'absolute fury' at fire stations across the country.
Bain's report calls for the firefighters to adopt new ways of working. But as firefighter Steve Godward pointed out: "George Bain knows absolutely nothing about the fire service. He has said we work four hours on and four hours off. Tell that to firefighters who on the first shift on nights work from midnight to 9am the following morning".
The FBU general secretary Andy Gilchrist expressed the firefighters' anger when he said: "It is my view this is a report from those who seek a strike."
Nick Raynsford, fire service minister, has made it plain that nothing will be given to the firefighters above 4% without 'substantial changes in working practices'.
Blair from the beginning has tried to set worker against worker. He said the government would not finance any pay rise and that the firefighters' claim would take money out of the pockets of other public-sector workers. Then he tried to panic the public by whipping up the dangers of a strike.
The RMT on London Underground have said the tube network would not be safe to work or travel on without adequate fire cover and they will walk out on the same days as the FBU.
The bosses' response was to deny this and say it was safe to run trains. They are obviously afraid of the massive knock-on effects of the firefighters' dispute.
RMT leader Bob Crow told an FBU meeting on 11 November: "We've adopted a fire station in every region and branch. The RMT office is open to the FBU. The firefighters stood firm with the rail workers. They were there at Paddington, Kings Cross, Hatfield and Southall."
A victory for the firefighters will be a victory for all public-sector workers.
Every other trade unionist, particularly in the public sector, should be preparing support and solidarity to make sure the firefighters win.
In The Socialist 15 November 2002: