Socialist Worker

London firefighters furious as mayor and commissioner make off with fire engines

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2458

Light-fingered Tory Boris Johnson

Light-fingered Tory Boris Johnson (Pic: Andrew Parsons/ i-Images)

Firefighters are furious after being double-crossed by Tory mayor of London Boris Johnson and fire commissioner Ron Dobson over the return of 13 fire appliances.

The appliances were taken to be used by scabs during the firefighters’ strikes over pensions. But now Johnson is refusing to give them back.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) executive member for London Ian Leahair said firefighters would be “incandescent with anger” over the move.

The FBU had been promised the appliances return if they agreed to certain terms with the commissioner.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack wrote to Dobson at the start of the month agreeing to the terms. The union was told the appliances would be given back to their stations.

But Johnson issued a “mayoral direction” this week ordering Dobson not to return the appliances.

The union is now asking if there was collusion between the commissioner and Tory mayor.

It says sources have confirmed the authenticity of a secret letter received by the commissioner, written by the mayor’s chief of staff Sir Edward Lister. The letter raises the possibility of decommissioning the appliances permanently for budget cuts.

The union is asking why Dobson did not return the appliances straight away, and when did he know about the letter proposing scrapping the appliances.

They are also asking if he tipped off the mayor’s office that the FBU had agreed to the terms.

Johnson and Dobson oversaw the closure of ten fire stations last year, resulting in the loss of 500 firefighter posts. That victory has only bolstered their confidence to attack workers and stitch up the union over the appliances.

Ian said, “We see that we can’t rely on Mr Dobson to defend fire cover in London. He is in the pocket of the politicians. We will, as ever, have to make the case ourselves.

“We want these 13 appliances back where they belong at stations, and we’ll carry on fighting to get them back.”

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