Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/214/8623
Support the Merseyside firefighters: Defend Public Services
MERSEYSIDE FIREFIGHTERS have voted by a 82.7% majority for strike action. Chief fire officer, Malcolm Saunders and the Merseyside Fire Authority want to recruit non-uniformed staff directly into uniformed management positions. Currently all uniformed officers have to start as firefighters.
Pete Glover and Matt Wrack
This is not only playing around with nationally agreed conditions of service, it is also playing fast and loose with people's lives. All public-sector workers are facing similar attacks as Labour presses ahead with privatisation.
Saunders' challenge of the FBU ballot was roundly defeated in the courts, which cost council taxpayers thousands of pounds. And even the employers' representatives on the national disputes panel have upheld the union's case.
Merseyside FBU secretary, Les Skarratts said: "If Saunders and the Fire Authority have the ability to disregard a national decision to resolve a dispute - what is to stop them having carte blanche to smash through all conditions of service for firefighters, officers and control staff in Merseyside, effectively undermining our right to formally object and seek independent resolution of a dispute." Les added: "Our members are concerned that this could affect the standards and delivery of a fire service on Merseyside."
Fire Authority chair, Bootle Labour councillor Peter Dowd said: "The authority is confident all the necessary contingency plans are in place... the fact is we will see Green Goddesses on the streets for the first time since 1996." Obviously the employer is keen to take on the FBU.
Back in 1996 Dowd took a similar stance and brought out the army and its Green Goddesses. Then the Socialist Party stood against Peter Dowd in the 1996 local elections. We intend to do the same thing when Dowd is up for re-election.
Meanwhile, the Socialist Party is building an anti-cuts alliance of those groups of workers such as Sefton care home workers who are fighting cuts to other local government services, (see The Socialist newspaper, page 11.)
The FBU conference decision to democratise the union's political fund shows how trade union activists are preparing to take on New Labour's privatisation agenda.
Workers need a voice as Labour, Lib-Dems and the Tories are all singing from the same pro-market hymn sheet. Working-class people need independent political representation as never before.
Support the Merseyside firefighters' struggle to defend public safety and their working conditions.
No privatisation. Public services must be publicly funded under democratic working-class control. End and reverse all previous privatisations, including the Private Finance Initiative.
Reverse all cuts in wages and working conditions endured by public-sector workers when their jobs have been privatised. For a minimum wage of £7.50 an hour for a 35-hour week for workers in all sectors.
FBU national rally and march starting at the Kings Dock, Liverpool at 1pm, Friday 13 July.
In The Socialist 13 July 2001: