Some 8,000 firefighters and their supporters marched and rallied in Liverpool today in support of Merseyside FBU's strike against cuts to the fire service and management bullying.
The national demonstration, called by the Fire Brigades Union, attracted support from across the country. Firefighters from as far afield aas Grampian and Bristol converged on Myrtle Parade for the start of the march through Liverpool city centre.
There was an air of defiance on the march, buoyed by the huge turnout and constant stream of support and encouragement from the general public.
Merseyside firefighters have been out on strike since Tuesday of this week. The action, initially called for eight days, has been extended for a further eight days in response to management intransigence. The current action follows a previous solid eight day strike held earlier this month.
Much of the anger among firefighters was focused on Merseyside's chief fire officer Tony McGuirk, who is widely despised for insitituting a regime of bullying and union busting within the regional fire service.
Merseyside FBU produced T-shirts for the rally parodying the Carlsberg adverts. They read 'McGuirk: probably the worst chief fire officer in the world' - with the 'probably' crossed out.
The rally at St George's Plateau at the end of the march heard speeches from four trade union general secretaries - Matt Wrack of the FBU, Bob Crow of the RMT, Billy Hayes of the CWU and Tony Woodley of the T&G.
All pledged support and solidarity for the Merseyside firefighters, with Bob Crow handing over £5,000 for the strikers' hardship fund. Hertfordshire FBU, which struck against similar neoliberal cuts earlier this year, donated £12,500.
Messages of support were read out from Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, George Galloway MP and John McDonnell MP.
Today's national demonstration was a resounding success and will have delivered a huge boost to the already high morale and determination of the striking firefighters.
With their will to win - combined with financial support and solidarity from across the trade union movement - victory is in sight.