Firefighters on Merseyside have announced eight more days of strike action following yesterday’s breakdown in talks between the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and Merseyside fire authority.
The new strike will start from 10am on Tuesday of next week and end at the same time on Wednesday 20 September. The Merseyside firefighters’ current strike action is due to end at noon on Friday.
“Our morale is high and our determination to stop savage cuts across the Merseyside fire and rescue service is unwavering,” said Les Skarratts, brigade secretary of Merseyside FBU.
“We have tremendous support from a public which has rumbled managers who claim they can improve a public service by cutting it.”
The fire authority walked out of talks yesterday without warning. They have responded to the FBU’s announcement of new strike dates by offering talks - on the day the action starts.
“Their reluctance to enter talks is perfectly clear,” said Les Skarratts. “They were dragged kicking and screaming into the last set of talks and couldn’t wait to leave them.”
The Merseyside firefighters are striking against plans to slash the fire service by cutting over 120 firefighter posts - one in ten of the workforce - as well as axeing four night-time fire engines and 15 emergency control room staff.
The escalation of the dispute underlines how crucial it is. If the Merseyside firefighters win, it will deal a crushing blow to government plans to implement similar neo-liberal cuts across the country.
But if the management’s strategy of using strike breaking labour and refusing meaningful talks pays off, it will give a green light to an assault on the FBU and the fire service everywhere.
That is why it is vital to give unstinting support to the Merseyside firefighters. Solidarity from the wider movement will boost the strength and the confidence of the strikes - and weaken the management position.
Rush messages of support to Merseyside FBU, 50-54 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L3 5UN. Donations should be sent to Merseyside Hardship Fund, HSBC bank, sort code 40-29-28, account number 91320165.