Fire-fighting Back

Congratulations on becoming a firefighter – now go and pick up a hospital patient and cross your fingers that no one needs a fire put out while you’re at it.’ That is the future planned for firefighters by the Labour-led West Midlands Fire Authority, but a future that won’t be accepted by firefighters and emergency control operators, who are now balloting for strike action.

firefighters-holding-cuts-placards
The planned contracts would mean new firefighters having to take on non-fire service duties – like those you’d expect NHS workers to be employed to do. In fact, it’s already happening – loss-making ‘care contacts’ signed by the Fire Authority have already taken fire staff and engines off front line duties. 


These changes come under an anti-union, bullying management that are also introducing flexible working – that’s flexible for the bosses of course, changing working hours on short notice. Dial-a-firefighter: the gig economy for trained emergency staff, implemented by a Labour-led Fire Authority which is also suspending employees for union campaigning. No wonder FBU union members have had enough!


On 30 April, the day before balloting began, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack spoke to many union members at meetings in Solihull and Dudley. Socialist Party members gave support to firefighters at the Solihull meeting, who were glad to hear that anti-cuts TUSC candidates were standing against right-wing, anti-union, anti-Corbyn Labour councillors - the sort that lead the county’s Fire Authority. Ten copies of the Socialist were sold.
Last year saw Birmingham’s bin workers take strike action to stop job cuts and savage pay cuts attempted by the city’s Labour council – again showing that organised, hard fought action can win. As one person going into the meeting said: “This could be the 2018 Birmingham bins.”


Bob Severn, Birmingham South East Socialist Party

Kingshurst FBU
Speaking to FBU members outside the meeting

Written by workers for workers.

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