Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/274/24516
Stand By The Firefighters
- Stand firm for the full claim of £30,000 for firefighters and emergency fire control staff with no strings. Pay parity for retained firefighters.
- Any attempts to cross firefighters' picket lines should be met with organised solidarity action from other unions.
- Get a firefighter to speak at your local Socialist Party and trade union branch.
- Build support for the firefighters on local Socialist Party stalls and activities.
- Encourage the setting up of local public-sector alliances of trade unionists who are fighting for better pay and conditions.
FIREFIGHTERS HAVE resoundingly voted to take strike action despite government and media intimidation.
By a margin of nine to one, over 80% of them voted in their ballot for action. Now their union has planned 36 days of strike action, starting on 29 October, in pursuit of a fully justified 40% pay claim
Public support has forced government ministers to concede firefighters' claims for higher pay are justified. But that doesn't stop these same ministers squaring up for a fight.
Can you believe these hypocrites who gave themselves huge pay rises last year - in some cases amounting to more than 40%? And it is these same ministers who could be asking young people in a few weeks to risk their lives in a war for oil against Iraq.
It was also these government ministers who scuppered an earlier 16% offer to firefighters and who only set up a sham review body when it was clear the firefighters were serious about action.
"The firefighters are totally justified in their stand.
Many UNISON members work alongside firefighters and will be willing them on, especially given that many of our members have been on strike recently or are going on strike in the near future for better pay.
"Our members will be organising solidarity work and collections.
It is also urgent that union reps take up health and safety issues with the employers."
Roger Bannister, public sector union UNISON's national executive (personal capacity)
Now the government is said to be seriously worried and is backtracking and pleading for the union to go to review. But the government don't want a genuine review only one that backs up the bosses' minimal offer.
Working-class people throughout Britain will be standing by the firefighters.
Everyone knows the government has been spoiling to take on the firefighters' union and break them, as an example to all those struggling against low pay.
Government ministers know that the last firefighters' strike in 1977 - when a Labour government similarly presided over pay restraint for public-sector workers - led to millions of workers taking strike action to win a decent living wage.
Now, even more than in the 1970s there is a welling up of class anger over the wealth divide in British society.
Working-class people struggling for better pay and conditions have had enough and will be backing the firefighters to strike a blow against Blair's low pay Britain.
In The Socialist 25 October 2002: