The Socialist 31 March 2010
We Will Not Pay
Council cuts: Grim Reaper moving to Surrey
"WE'VE REACHED a point now where fire crews are turning up at scenes of emergency and having to tell the public that we cannot make a rescue because we have to wait for more staff to turn up. It's life or death in the fire services and if these cuts continue the Grim Reaper will be taking up residence in Surrey."
These are the strong words of Richard Jones, Surrey FBU branch secretary, spoken at the Save Our Services lobby in Surrey last week outside County Hall in Kingston. Alongside Surrey council Unison and GMB members, the FBU were opposing the savage cuts that are destroying services in the county.
Richard continued: "If these cuts go through Surrey will be spending the lowest amount per head of the population in the country. It will mean the loss of fire engines and station closures. Councillors say they are 'trimming the fat'. However, the fat went years ago and they have been gnawing on the bones ever since.
"These cuts put lives at risk. We turn up to incidents without enough crew and have to wait for back-up before we can safely enter the building. Firefighters are going in understaffed and risking their lives. The public is in danger, firefighters are in danger, enough is enough!"
FBU members are angry these cuts are taking place under a 'Labour' government and welcomed the news that local activist Paul Couchman is standing as a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate in the election.
Paul told the rally: "We've sent a message to the councillors that our public services are vital and we won't tolerate cuts to them. The politicians spent billions bailing out the bankers, and they want us to pay the price."
Everyone agreed that it is necessary to fight together, trade unions and the community, to maximise the pressure on politicians to fully fund public services.
In this issue
PCS strike action
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review