Socialist Worker

London firefighters vote decisively for strikes

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2223

Firefighters across London have voted an excellent 79 percent yes to strikes – on a 79 percent turnout.

The ballot result, announced today (Thursday), clears the way for the kind of escalation that can beat the bosses' blackmail plan to sack every London firefighter unless they sign up to worse shifts.

The FBU union members, who are already closing some fire stations by taking action short of a strike, are set to announce their strike dates tomorrow (Friday) unless bosses withdraw the sackings in the next 24 hours.

The union could call strikes for as soon as next Friday, 22 October.

And they could then co-ordinate their action with the next planned round of strikes by London tube workers in the RMT and TSSA unions starting on 2 November.

Firefighters from across the country came to a brilliant 3,000-strong march in London over the issue last month – yet still the bosses aren't backing down.

Hard-hitting and sustained strikes are what will be needed to win.

The battle lines have been drawn. Brian Coleman, the hated Tory boss of London's fire authority, has already lined up a scab force run by private firm AssetCo.

Yesterday (Wednesday), before the strike result was even known, the bosses removed 27 fire engines from duty in London and hid them away ready for the scabs to use.

But 27 crewed fire engines to cover the whole city is less than one for each London borough. Normally there are 169 fire engines on duty across the capital.

Coleman apparently thinks 27 engines is sufficient fire cover – which shows what the fire service would look like if he got his way.

London's firefighters are not only fighting for their shifts and their jobs, but for all of our safety.

Walking out on strike will be a big step for the firefighters. Solidarity is vital. They must know that they have the support of the whole trade union movement.

Send messages of support to [email protected]

Take a delegation to visit your local London fire station: the best time to go is not at shift change time but a few hours later at 11am or 7.30pm. Workplaces could twin with their local fire station

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