Socialist Worker

Firefighters: Let’s all strike together to save our pensions

by Neale Williams, chair Dowgate FBU
Issue No. 2374

Firefighters in Clapham, south London, during last month’s strike

Firefighters in Clapham, south London, during last month’s strike (Pic: Xanthe Whittaker)

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is holding a consultative ballot in Scotland over pension proposals from the Scottish Government and Fire Service employers.

The FBU held a four-hour strike to defend pensions last month. 

Firefighters in Scotland did not take part because the union said they had received an improved pension proposal.

Yet the new proposal doesn’t address all of the union’s concerns. 

And the union is unlikely to call further action during the consultation, although strikes haven’t been discounted.

A four-hour strike will not defeat the Tories’ attacks on our pensions. Some rank and file FBU members want an escalation of strikes. 

There must be a focus for these calls. Members should put motions in branches, and in region and brigade committees.

I put forward a motion in Dowgate for strikes to be escalated to 48 hours. 

Half the branch supported it, half opposed. I think that reflects what’s going on around Britain.

In Scotland, some areas of the FBU are trying to negotiate a deal. They don’t want to unleash the forces in the union that can win a victory.

Some say that because Scotland has a devolved government a strike there would have no impact on pensions. 

But we face a national attack on our pensions and we voted for national strikes. 

The union should call us all out together because that way we will be stronger.

Socialist Worker’s coverage of our strike was excellent, especially the story about train drivers refusing to take trains out because of safety concerns.

Solidarity like this is exactly what we need. 

However, if we want to develop solidarity with striking workers, we have to strike ourselves.

Members in Scotland should vote to reject the pension proposals and we need to start a real fightback in earnest.

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Article information

Tue 8 Oct 2013, 16:32 BST
Issue No. 2374
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