Our Say

After G8 and the London bombings - the way forward

London terror attacks condemned

After Live 8:
from pressure to action

The G8 summit and political power

Make the G8 leaders history

A sham election

10 good reasons to boycott May 5

Don't be blackmailed into voting

Reject ‘dependency’ politics

No votes for New Labour!

Parliament seals its own fate

A secret policeman's government

Vote for "none of the above"

How to remember the victims of the tsunami

A state of crisis

New Labour and the big lie

Yasser Arafat - a revolutionary life

After the US election

Blood on New Labour's hands

Butler and weapons of mass deception

With 'leaders' like these, who needs enemies?

How to meet the threat from the right

Barbarians at the gate

Torture, values and lies

The silence of the lambs

War crimes in Iraq

The slaughter in Madrid

The unfinished business of the miners’ strike 1984-85

L’état – c’est New Labour

The death of liberal democracy foretold

Hutton washes the state whiter than white

Top-up fees and the market economy

Our challenge for 2004

New Labour's march to a police state

Bush & Blair - partners in crime

London Region revolts against FBU leaders

Postal workers in the front line

No turning back

Where we go from here

Stop the War Coalition leaders and political fabrication

Regime change begins at home

Blood on New Labour's hands

There's more involved than just Blair

New Labour, lies and spies

Firefighters should reject deal and disown leaders

BECTU vote on New Labour link a step forward

Time runs out for FBU leaders

New Labour's one-party state

The blind alley of crude anti-Americanism

Occupation of Iraq - time to move beyond protest

War is a test for principles

Iraqi defiance shocks and awes

FBU leaders who backed capitulation should resign now

Down with New Labour's war - for regime change in Britain

FBU at war with New Labour

New Labour, not just Blair, is the target

50 years since the death of Stalin - an assessment

FBU finds itself in Precott's trap

War is Peace - Blair's fictitious 'push for peace'

15/2: Global marches put power on the agenda

Crisis of globalisation behind attack on Iraq

Tell it how it is

An injury to one is an injury to all

War plans expose fraudulent 'democracy'

A 'regime change' in Britain is the answer to war on Iraq

FBU needs a new strategy

Challenging New Labour

A moment of truth in the fight against New Labour

Gilchrist says it how it is

Time to defy the anti-union laws in support of the FBU

FBU must ask for solidarity strikes

FBU leaders must ask for support now

New Labour provokes confrontation

Italian police attack No-Global movement

New Labour declares war on FBU

Don't let the FBU fight alone

UN writes a blank cheque for war

Blood on Putin's hands

Unions must support firefighters with action not words

Support the firefighters - defeat New Labour

Bush-Blair war agenda revealed

Seeing through New Labour's weapons of mass deception

The US media and the new garrison state

The BEGINNING of Politics

How technology could
free humanity

'Terminator' engineering: A threat to humanity

The future is socialist

Asylum legislation fuels racist attacks

Road map to the future

E-mail to hear about site changes, placing 'update' in body of message



Unions must support firefighters with action not words

The government’s decision to pay the entire costs of deploying the armed forces during strikes by firefighters is the clearest sign yet that New Labour is prepared for an all-out confrontation in this dispute. Normally, the cost of using troops would fall on local authorities, who are the firefighters’ direct employers.

Now the Blair government is prepared to spend whatever it takes in a fight to the finish with the Fire Brigades Union rather than settle the dispute. The firefighters are seen as a direct threat to the direction and policies of the government and no concessions are on offer.

Blair has repeated his scaremongering about mortgages costing more if the FBU’s 40% claim is met, while Chancellor Brown has said there will be "no quick fixes" and that he would not allow the economy to be "blown off course by inflationary pay settlements".

This is the same government that, of course, has given £500 million to bail out the bankrupt nuclear generating industry and is preparing to spend billions on an invasion of Iraq. You see where their priorities are.

The statements by Blair and Brown are aimed at reassuring the international financiers and global corporations that New Labour directly represents. At the same time they confirm that the "independent" review the government insists is the way forward is a farce and the FBU is right to boycott it.

What the FBU is involved in is a direct challenge to the very nature of New Labour itself. Just like the Tories before them when they fought the miners in 1984, New Labour is ready to use the entire resources of the state against a section of trade unionists to ensure its survival as a capitalist government.

The danger is, as in 1984, that a section of workers is allowed to fight the government and the state on their own.

Already TUC general secretary John Monks is manoeuvring to try and get the strike action suspended. Meanwhile, the TUC has published guidelines on public safety that trade unions on strike are obliged to follow. This only adds to the pressure on the FBU despite the general statements of support for the firefighters.

We should say: Public safety is an issue not because of the firefighters but because of the refusal of New Labour and the local authorities to make a decent offer to the FBU.

The leaders of the rail unions have said that they will support their members who refuse to work if they feel that there are inadequate safety precautions as a result of the fire strikes. This is an important commitment but does not go nearly far enough. It puts the onus on the individual rail worker to walk off the job and face disciplinary action.

Bob Crow, the leader of the RMT, has said explicitly that this is not secondary industrial action in support of the firefighters. Well, why not? Is it because secondary action is illegal under the anti-union laws passed by the Tories and retained by New Labour?

The time to defy these reactionary laws is now because the firefighters are struggling on behalf of all workers, especially those in the public sector. Firefighters are fighting for the whole idea of a properly-funded public service against New Labour’s privatisation programme.

The rail unions, the GMB and Unison, all say they are opposed to the "private finance initiative". Their call for a review of PFI is being ignored by Blair. If they are serious about defending their members’ interests, let them stop avoiding the issue by talking about "public safety" and organise direct support for the firefighters.

The FBU leaders should not hesitate to ask for this support, which they will need if they are to defeat New Labour and win their claim.

Movement for a Socialist Future
October 22, 2002