Socialist Worker

Firefighters to strike on Merseyside

by Anindya Bhattacharyya
Issue No. 2015

Firefighters in the FBU union on Merseyside will strike for four days next week against a programme of job cuts.

Some 71 percent of firefighters voted for industrial action in a ballot that drew an 81 percent turnout, says Les Skarratts, branch secretary for Merseyside FBU.

The strike action will start at 10am on Thursday 31 August and run over the weekend until the morning of Monday 4 September.

“The spirit here is very good - there’s deep anger and resentment against the management strategy,” Les Skarratts told Socialist Worker.

The fire authority plans to cut 120 frontline firefighter posts - one in ten of the workforce - as well as 15 emergency fire control operators and four night time fire engines.

Mersey FBU has come under pressure from the chief fire officer Tony McGuirk to scale back its strike action or strike “responsibly” by leaving “strategic” stations open.

But Les Skarratts says firefighters have “rejected out of hand any exemptions” to the industrial action.

The refusal of senior management in the fire authority to negotiate seriously over the job cuts has infuriated rank and file members, he adds.

But the FBU’s relationship with the council is generally better and the union is still willing to negotiate with them if they are willing to talk.

“Managers say the jobs they want to cut have already gone,” said Les. “We want to know who is running the fire authority - the management team or locally elected councillors?”

The Merseyside action is the latest in a series of fire service disputes around the country as authorities try to push through neo-liberal cuts packages dressed up as “modernisation”.

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Sat 26 Aug 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2015
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