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New Labour Wrecks Firefighters' Pay Deal
FIRE BRIGADES union members are balloting again for industrial action after negotiations on the brink of settlement were wrecked by the direct intervention of the government.
On 2 August, talks to finalise a deal which would mean the payment of the two outstanding pay instalments, were packed with New Labour councillors from London. These local councillors had never previously attended any meetings about the fire service, they were there solely to vote the deal down.
This follows over a year of negotiations, which had latterly turned on the introduction of a new disciplinary and grievance procedure and the question of what duties firefighters could be expected to perform at night and on bank holidays.
As part of their all-out attack on the public sector, the government clearly want to make an example of the firefighters and impose their draconian cost-cutting 'modernisation' proposals in every area. As well as a vigorous campaign for a 'yes' vote for action, the FBU must link their campaign with the other public-sector unions.
Jim Barbour, a member of the FBU executive from Northern Ireland told the socialist: "There's clearly been a campaign by New Labour minister Nick Raynsford to destroy the FBU. We've had a year of harassment and vindictiveness. Now the members are very angry, so I'm confident in a substantial 'yes' vote. If Raynsford wants industrial strife in the fire service then that's what he'll get."
In The Socialist 7 August 2004:
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