Socialist Worker

London firefighters set to announce huge vote for strikes

by a London firefighter
Issue No. 2223

London firefighters were set to find out the result of their strike ballot on Thursday of this week—with a massive yes vote expected.

The FBU union members are livid at Tory bosses starting the process of sacking them all in order to force through new contracts with worse shifts.

The firefighters are currently taking action short of a strike, including an overtime ban—and it is having an impact.

Fire stations in Bethnal Green, Bromley, Croydon, Ealing, Kingston, Lambeth and more have at times been left too short staffed to send out any fire engines.

A leaked document reveals that 91 of 169 fire engines were out of service for a period on Monday of last week.

But it will be important to escalate to strikes as soon as possible after the ballot result.

London firefighters could launch their first strikes as soon as 21 October—and they should.

And then they should walk out at the same time as the next London tube strike, due to start on 2 November.

Bosses have a £9 million five-year deal with private firm AssetCo to provide strikebreaking “cover” if firefighters walk out.

But they would organise a paltry number of fire engines, crewed by rent‑a‑scabs without proper training.

The FBU London regional committee and an all-reps meeting last Wednesday agreed to offer the employers a new deal around a 24-hour shift pattern.

Up until now the union’s position has been to defend the current shift pattern.

The union has rightly condemned fire bosses’ attacks on shift patterns. With strong support for the FBU’s campaign, there should be no concessions to management.

Despite differences of opinion over shift demands, there was agreement that the key remains winning a strong yes vote in the ballot for strike action—and being prepared to call hard-hitting strikes.

And if one firefighter is sacked, the union’s conference must be recalled immediately to launch a national strike ballot.

Watch this website for the ballot result.

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