Firefighters striking in 2013, photo Paul Mattsson

Firefighters striking in 2013, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Bob Severn, Birmingham Socialist Party

West Midlands firefighters have voted by 90% to take strike action against exploitative conditions for new fire service workers. They are being introduced by the Labour-led West Midlands Fire Authority (WMFA).

The new contracts would force firefighters to take on work outside the agreed role of a firefighter, including acting as taxi drivers for the NHS. The WMFA has imposed these new contracts, which breach national agreements with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), without any negotiation with the union.

The ballot result, nine to one in favour of walking out on an 82% turnout, has smashed through the Tories’ draconian minimum vote now needed for legal strike action by emergency service workers.

But who needs the Tories when Blairite Labour councillors are doing their anti-worker, anti-union business for them? Labour members of the fire authority who attack firefighters’ terms and conditions should be deselected and suspended. We need representatives who fight the cuts not implement them.

The new contracts are the tip of iceberg under a regime where firefighters face dictatorial and bullying management.

The FBU will now go ahead with industrial strike action, which will affect fire stations across the West Midlands county, unless WMFA backs down and withdraws the new contracts.