Socialist Worker

London firefighters call strike for next Saturday

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2223

London’s firefighters will strike next Saturday (23 October) and again on Monday 1 November, their union announced today (Friday).

The firefighters will walk out for eight hours, from 10am to 6pm, each time.

It comes after the FBU union members voted 79 percent yes to strikes on a 79 percent turnout yesterday.

They are fighting their bosses’ plan to sack all 5,500 of them unless they sign up to worse shifts. The shift changes would see the night shift made three hours shorter and mean cuts to night-time fire cover.

London’s firefighters are already taking action short of a strike. Their overtime ban has forced some fire stations to temporarily close, showing how far the service has been relying on their goodwill just to run normally.

But now the battle is really on.

And the clock is ticking. The mass sackings are not just a threat—they are a legal process that the bosses started back in August.

If the plan is not defeated then the first firefighters could be sacked on 26 November.

The fire authority bosses, led by crazed Tory councillor Brian Coleman, have shown all along that they’re spoiling for a fight.

Last month, with 3,000 firefighters from across the country laying siege to their headquarters in a protest march, the bosses still decided to push ahead with the plan.

And the FBU gave the bosses 24 hours to back down after their decisive strike vote yesterday—yet still they refused.

Instead they have been spending their time preparing a scab force run by private firm AssetCo.

The union has rightly said that there can’t be any talk of negotiations until the sacking blackmail is withdrawn. “You don't negotiate with a gun to your head,” FBU general secretary Matt Wrack has said.

But the bosses have shown no sign of taking away that gun.

Now the union can, and must, beat them once and for all. And to do that the firefighters will need as much support and solidarity as we can possibly deliver.

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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