The firefighters’ FBU union entered into another round of talks with Tory fire minister Penny Mordaunt last week. The union executive issued a statement to members saying that no further strikes would be called while the talks were ongoing.
But the fire minister has not backed down from her attacks on firefighters’ pensions, and the union’s decision has been met with criticism from members.
Yusuf Timms, FBU south west London area secretary, told Socialist Worker, “The union has to stop falling for the government’s threat that if we strike they won’t talk.
“Strikes have pushed this dispute forward. Every movement followed a period of action. We need to keep the pressure up on the government.”
Under proposed pension changes, firefighters will be expected to work until they are 60, up from 55.
If they fail to achieve fitness standards and have to retire earlier, they could lose up to half of their pension or face the sack.
Firefighters have struck on more than 31 days against the attacks. They joined the 1.4 million workers who struck on 10 July and walked out on a series of shorter strikes.
Momentum to take on the government grew during the walkouts. Firefighters fear that this could dissipate while the union is locked in talks with the Tories.
The London FBU region issued a circular which said, “The patience of London members has been tested not just to breaking point, but well beyond it.
“The stop-start tactics that have characterised our campaign from the outset have undermined our momentum and caused immense frustration.
“There can be no bigger battle than pensions. Our futures and those of our families are at stake. It really is crunch time.”