FIREFIGHTERS IN many brigades are responding to the call for resistance at last week's Fire Brigades Union (FBU) conference by withdrawing cooperation with management and even taking unofficial action. "Every whole-time station in the brigade has gone onto 999 calls only action," says Neil Day, secretary of the FBU union in Norfolk.
"And they intend to keep on with it until the employers give us our pay rise and withdraw demands for unacceptable attacks. It is a sign of just how angry FBU members are. Some are saying that agreeing at the recalled conference next month for action short of strikes is not enough. They want strike action. And there are some who are saying we should be walking out now. This is in an area that has not been the most militant."
In Scotland the union has issued a circular outlining a comprehensive list of areas of work FBU members are not doing. This follows the conference decision to withdraw from implementing the modernisation and pay deal until the government and the employers pay a promised 3.5 percent rise.
Cornwall has withdrawn from doing "new dimensions" work, which is extra training meant to deal with a terrorist threat. Officers in Northamptonshire have pulled out of a new management and career development programme for firefighters. Meetings are taking place in every brigade to gauge the mood in the run-up to the recalled conference, which starts on 15 June.
The London regional committee is recommending a position of strikes to win the full pay award promised as part of last year's deal, but also to oppose attacks under the guise of modernisation.
It is circulating that position to other regions and brigades. Cambridge FBU secretary Adrian Clarke says, "I think members are up to resist. "People do want to draw a line in the sand and stop the offensive that has come over the last 12 months. I am one of those who was deeply critical of the way the union's national leadership handled the pay dispute. I am standing on the Respect list for the European elections on 10 June because we desperately need an alternative to New Labour. We didn't get to discuss that at the conference last week, but we will return to the issue of the union's political fund in June. Members are angry with Labour because it is Labour that is behind holding back our pay rise and trying to squeeze us into the ground."