Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/359/5907
New Labour at war with firefighters
OUR MEMBERS are furious at the way our agreed deal has been sabotaged by local government minister Nick Raynsford and his New Labour government. They want to wreck our pay settlement and smash our union.
Neil MacPherson, Mid and West Wales FBU Brigade Secretary
At the negotiations between the employers' team and the union negotiators all outstanding issues were agreed for a final settlement to this long-running dispute. Then, at a full meeting of the employers, the negotiating team's recommendation was voted down by the decisive intervention of seven councillors from London who had stepped in to replace colleagues on holiday.
These seven councillors had not been involved in any previous negotiations, knew nothing about the deal, were not members of any fire authority and were simply brought in to vote the settlement down!
The employers have now sent out a letter to our members urging them to vote 'No' in our strike ballot claiming the main obstacle to an agreement is the issue of bank holiday working. This is a complete red herring designed to cause confusion over the government's real agenda which is to undermine even further our pay and conditions.
On bank holiday working, the negotiating team had agreed a form of words which was acceptable to both parties. In effect our members already carry out almost all normal working practices on bank holidays. It is not the FBU that is causing a danger to the public on bank holidays, as the government claim. The employers have cut back on staff during these public holidays in order to save on wages.
The anger felt by our members over this cynical attempt to prevent a settlement being reached will hopefully result in a big 'Yes' vote for action. Our members are already owed £1.5 million in back pay, on average £600 - £800 per person. We have already given up a hell of a lot and we want to see an end to this two-year dispute. But if the government thinks it can just ride roughshod over the FBU then it had better start thinking again!
- The ballot result will be announced at the end of August.
In The Socialist 21 August 2004:
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