Archive article from The Socialist Issue 287
Firefighters Stand Up To Labour
Standing in Scotland's local elections
OVER THIRTY firefighters in Scotland have decided to stand as candidates in the local elections on 1 May. They will be standing under the banner 'Firefighters Against Public Sector Cuts'.
Across Britain thousands of firefighters have already opted out of paying the union political levy to the Labour Party. Standing candidates is the obvious next move for workers who have been sickened by New Labour's attempts to crush their union in order to bully others into accepting low pay, cuts and privatisation.
Resolutions to this year's FBU conference will be calling for the union to disaffiliate from New Labour. The Socialist Party supports this and we will be moving resolutions at other union conferences calling for a break with Labour.
But we also believe that workers need a political voice. The FBU should go further and approach the leadership of Left unions like the RMT and organise a representative conference of trade unionists to discuss the question of building a new mass, democratic union based party that can fight for the interests of working-class people in the same way that New Labour backs big business.
Upsetting Mr Burns
OUR SUPPORT group's lobby of Fire Services minister Nick Raynsford's surgery caught him by surprise. As "Mr. Burns" walked to his surgery at a community centre in Greenwich, Raynsford was greeted by around 50 protesters, including firefighters from stations across South and East London.
Martin Powell-Davies, Lewisham firefighters support group
Raynsford just scurried inside and a delegation of firefighters demanded to meet with Raynsford - along with local constituents who were members of local FBU support groups.
While we waited, protestors outside were kept entertained by speeches from local trade unionists and Socialist Party councillor, Ian Page.
When supporters and firefighters came back out they showed their disgust at his comments. He had even implied that reduced night cover wasn't really an issue because people would die anyway as fire stations simply didn't get early enough warning at night!
But our visit shook up the Minister and made him realise that the firefighters and supporters across the trade union movement certainly weren't going away.