London’s firefighters have called off the strike they had planned for tomorrow (Friday) after bosses agreed to go to arbitration.
The FBU union had planned to strike for 47 hours from 10am tomorrow, Bonfire Night, over bosses’ plans to sack all 5,500 London firefighters to force through worse shifts would lead to cuts to night-time fire cover.
But the union called the strike off tonight after the fire authority made a new offer and agreed to take it to arbitration at the Resolution Advisory Panel (RAP).
While they are in the arbitration, which is non-binding, the fire authority bosses have agreed to delay the mass sackings – although they have not been withdrawn.
This means that the London firefighters’ two eight-hour strikes so far have succeeded in getting a better offer – 13-hour night shifts and 11-hour days, with no 'strings”. And this offer may be slightly improved during the arbitration process.
Bosses had originally wanted to change the firefighters’ existing 15-hour night and 9-hour day to an equal 12-hour day and night.
The fact that the bosses made a new offer at all shows that the Bonfire Night strike plan had them on the back foot. They knew how effective it would be, and how inadequate their scabbing operation is – which is why they have spent the last week waging war on the union in the media.
That’s why it was a mistake to call off the strikes. The union has clearly won some concessions – but it has lost the momentum it had on its side, and missed a key opportunity to stretch the private AssetCo scabbing operation beyond breaking point.