Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/404/4891
Firefighters defend life-saving services
SUFFOLK FIREFIGHTERS turned out in force on the picket lines on 2 and 5 August in their protest against the removal of turntable services from Bury St Edmunds and the loss of 12 frontline jobs.
Roger MacKay, President, Ipswich and District TUC
I went to the main fire station in Ipswich with a trades council message of solidarity. Support for the firefighters was obvious from the numbers of passing cars giving blasts on their horns. I spoke to Simon Roberts, the trades council FBU delegate:
"Fighting cuts to the fire service has become an annual event for us. According to the Audit Commission, Suffolk spends proportionately less on its fire service than any other local authority, so we're already pared down to the bone.
"After the national dispute, they have obviously felt confident enough to go ahead with some of the so-called modernisation programme. But however they disguise it, these are cuts to the frontline service.
"We're already over-stretched and the loss of the Bury St Edmund service will increase response times and inevitably affect the efficiency of the service. Our safety and the safety of the public is at risk.
"We've lobbied the county council extensively over the past few months and recent remarks by their spokeswoman that we haven't spoken to them since calling for action are hardly constructive. We've asked to see the risk assessments that supposedly justify their proposals, but they have refused.
"If they get away with these cuts in Bury St Edmunds, who knows what will go next? We've got 240 firefighters in Suffolk. If they were to make similar cuts in Ipswich, another 12 jobs, that would represent 10% of the workforce. We will continue our action to fight the cuts."
Suffolk FBU have called two further strikes on 8 and 11 August. A march and rally will be held on 11 August, starting from Princes Road Fire Station, Ipswich, at 2pm, with a rally in the town centre.
Any support, trade union banners etc, will be welcomed.
In The Socialist 11 August 2005: