Socialist Worker

Essex firefighters take three days of strikes

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2436

fbu picket line

Firefighters on the picket line in Essex

Firefighters and control room staff in Essex began a three days of strikes today, Wednesday, against job cuts and attacks on conditions.

Fire bosses plan to axe at least 179 jobs—a 25 percent cut in fulltime firefighters. Numbers have already been slashed from 750 to 656 since 2010.

The workers in the FBU union began the first of their 9 hour walkouts at 9am and will strike again from the same time tomorrow and Friday.

Essex FBU brigade chair Riccardo La Torre told Socialist Worker that pickets were solid.
“It’s been fantastic, the solidarity is some of the best I have seen,” he said.

“I’ve been up and down the country with brigade officials and our general secretary Matt Wrack and the response from members and the public has been unbelievable.

“This isn’t an Essex standalone fight - services all across the country are facing attacks as well.”

Ever since the Tories came to office in 2010 over 5,000 frontline firefighter jobs have been cut—and more are expected to go.

Today seven control room jobs went in Essex - and bosses have made work for the rest unbearable.

“Bosses have made the shifts so unworkable that people will have to leave because they can’t work full time,” said Riccardo.

And as well as the attacks locally, firefighters also face Tory attacks on their pensions.

Under proposed pension changes, firefighters will be expected to work a further five years until they are 60.

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 more than 30 times in the dispute - with the last walkout in December.

Riccardo said, “The spirit of feeling on display today shows that there is a willingness to fight these attacks - we haven’t gone away.

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Wed 14 Jan 2015, 19:16 GMT
Issue No. 2436
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