Socialist Worker

Workers demand more action as bosses target striking firefighter

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2428

Firefighters picket in south London during a strike last week

Firefighters picket in south London during a strike last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Firefighters have reacted with fury after bosses sacked a leading union activist for striking against attacks on workers’ pensions.

Firefighters in the FBU union across England were set to end a four-day walkout as Socialist Worker went to press.

They are fighting plans that will see them work until they are 60—up from 55. 

And if they are unable to keep up the levels of fitness required they face the sack and the loss of up to half of their pensions.

In Buckinghamshire fire bosses told workers that the strike notice was invalid. They said if workers took part in the walkout it would be deemed unlawful. 

This led to local union officials calling off the strike in Buckinghamshire.

But firefighter Ricky Matthews was sacked after bosses said he failed to report for duty at 6pm last Saturday. Ricky is also an FBU executive council member for the Southern region.

Firefighters and executive council members met on Monday of this week to discuss the next steps in the campaign to reinstate Ricky.

Dave Waterman is FBU branch chair for Battersea, south London. 

He said, “It is a massive attack and a challenge to us as a trade union to bite the bullet and get everybody out of the door. 

“We need to go all out and stay out. We also need to stand firm until the chief officer is removed as well.”

The union said it is waiting for a legal challenge from Buckinghamshire bosses and has a QC to defend its case.

Vindictive bosses are trying to undermine a successful walkout.

The union’s executive was set to meet on Thursday of this week and will also meet with local officials from across England. 

Firefighters want more strikes if the government won’t back down.

“Morale is at its lowest ever because of the attacks,” said Dan, a firefighter at Euston in London.

“But we have great brotherhood and sisterhood as part of this job. 

“If the government don’t budge, then there should be more action—we’ve got the stomach for it.”

In Chesterfield, Derbyshire, on Saturday five FBU members and seven Socialist Worker supporters ran a stall in the market place.

They collected £130 and hundreds of people signed a petition supporting the fire strike.


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