By Annette Mackin
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Firefighters march through London in run up to strike

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Issue 2375
Firefighters on the march

Firefighters on the march

Over 5,000 firefighters staged an angry protest through central London today, Wednesday, against Tory cuts to the fire service.

As they marched through Westminster, firefighters broke from the main demonstration to descend upon the gates of Downing Street chanting “Tories, Tories, Tories, out, out, out!”.

“It shows the level of anger out there,” Gary Keary, FBU union Greater Manchester Brigade secretary told Socialist Worker.

Firefighters are furious at Tory plans to cut their pensions and force them to work until they are 60.

Firefighters in England and Wales were set to strike from 6.30pm to 11.30pm on Saturday of this week. It will be the second walkout in two months. 

“I’ll most definitely be out on strike on Saturday” said Gary. “We’re doing the right thing. It’s absolutely necessary. After two and a half years fighting our corner, nobody’s listened.”

Firefighters are determined to fight the Tories’ attacks on their pensions. Trains and coaches carried firefighters to the protest from all around Britain, and there were banners from Northern Irish and Scottish regions.

Manchester firefighter Simon Hickman said, “There’s 50 firefighters from Manchester here, 50 from Merseyside, 50 from Cheshire and two coaches from Lancashire. We’ll be out on strike on Saturday.  

“When the governments on its knees you have to kick them to finish them off.”

Thousands of teachers were set to strike for a day in London, the North East, South East and South West regions tomorrow, Thursday.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT teachers’ union, was one of the speakers who addressed a packed rally in Westminster Central Hall after the demonstration.

She told the hundreds of firefighters gathered, “Under these cuts, firefighters will end up on poverty pensions. We will stand with you on your pickets, on the streets and on your demonstrations. Solidarity.”

Mohammed Taj, president of the TUC, also spoke. He told the rally, “It is time to fight for what we believe in. You can count on the support of the six million members of the TUC. You have the trade union movement behind you.”

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, closed the rally. “On Saturday there have to be pickets,” he told firefighters. “This cannot be an invisible strike. We have got to say, ‘Every single cut you make, we will oppose it’.

“If you don’t fight, they will take back all the results we have won over the years. We’ve got to stand up, get organised and fight.”





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