Socialist Worker

Firefighters strike across England and Wales against Tory pension robbery

by Annette Mackin
Published Thu 12 Jun 2014
Issue No. 2407

FBU pickets in Lancaster

FBU pickets in Lancaster (Pic: Hilary Chuter)


Firefighters walked out across England and Wales today, Thursday, to begin their longest strike yet in a three year dispute with the government.

The FBU union members are striking for 24 hours against Tory plans to make them work until they are 60 years old before they can get a full pension.

And if they fail to remain fit enough for the job they will be sacked under capability assessments, or forced to retire on only half their pension.

The plans have angered workers. “It’s all take, take, take with the government” one striking firefighter in Clapham told Socialist Worker.

Micky, a firefighter at Islington in north London, said “I’ve lost hundreds in money through striking, but you’ve got to do it. We’re all in the same boat.”

More than 300 firefighters and supporters protested in Manchester.

“It was the biggest demonstration of firefighters we’ve had in Manchester for probably 10 years,” said Agecroft fire station FBU rep Simon Hickman.

“It reflects the strength of feeling among firefighters. The strike was solid, and members came out to protest and let people see how we feel.”

Solid

The strike was solid all over. Members of the FBU national women's committee joined strikers at the Temple Way fire station in Bristol.

And fire pickets in Clapham were joined by workers from Lambeth College who are on all out strike.

The FBU union have been locked in talks with the Tory fire minister Brandon Lewis since the last strike in May.

As well as the one day strike, firefighters are set to walk out for seven hours on Saturday of next week.

The London and North West regions of the FBU were central in pushing for the latest strikes—and officials say that more walkouts are likely.

London executive council member Ian Leahair told Socialist Worker, “The executive council will reconvene to discuss the latest action. We wouldn’t be surprised if Lewis doesn’t offer us anything after this, so we’ll have to call more strikes.”

More than a million workers are looking to strike together on 10 July over Tory attacks on their pay.

Firefighters are now arguing for the FBU to join other unions in striking on the day. Yusuf Timms, FBU borough secretary for Kensington and Chelsea, “The 24 hour strike is a good start, the members have been really up for it.

“But the union should now look to 10 July. We need a programme of action to make an impact.”

Simon added, “It was fantastic to have speakers from so many other unions at our rally. They’re in the same place as we are. We’re all in it together—against the Tories.”

Ian said, “We are aware that other unions are looking toward 10 July to co-ordinate action, and the FBU is monitoring it.”


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News
Thu 12 Jun 2014, 14:46 BST
Issue No. 2407
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