Socialist Worker

Firefighters strike against bosses' attacks on union

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2433

Thousands of firefighters march through Aylesbury

Thousands of firefighters march through Aylesbury (Pic: Julie Sherry)


Firefighters walked out for 24 hours on Tuesday of this week over the Tories’ pension theft and attacks on their FBU union.

The Tories want firefighters to work until they are 60—or face losing up to half of their pension.

The dispute is at a critical stage. 

As Socialist Worker went to press thousands of firefighters from across Britain marched through Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. 

Early last month Buckinghamshire fire bosses sacked union activist Ricky Matthews for taking part in a four-day walkout.

Firefighters gathered outside the local fire authority chanting “Shame on you” and “Reinstate Ricky Matthews”.

Many firefighters have argued for escalation in defiance of bosses’ attacks.”

“It’s an attack on the whole trade union movement,” FBU London North West area secretary Dave Shek told Socialist Worker. “I think we should have been doing longer strikes.

“It’s important that we ramp it up. They’re pushing us—we have to push them back harder.”

The latest action in defence of the union in Aylesbury has to be a launch pad for serious escalation. 

Union activists met in London on Wednesday of last week to discuss how to build the fightback and end the leadership’s stop and start strategy.

It was agreed to build a rank and file movement—starting with another activists meeting after the Aylesbury protest. 

The FBU’s London regional committee has already passed a motion calling for an eight-day escalation. 

The Essex, Merseyside and Greater Manchester regions also back a change in the strategy.

FBU Merseyside brigade secretary Mark Rowe told Socialist Worker, “We need to put more pressure on the government by increasing the action.

“While critical, we believe the union has handled the dispute well.

“But the government is not listening. We believe grassroots organisation is incredibly important. The dispute’s technical and the legal side should not move away from the industrial.

“Industrial action must continue unabated.”


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