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



FBU needs a new strategy

The enthusiastic response of New Labour and local authority employers to the final Bain report proposals is a further blow to the Fire Brigade Union's hopes of negotiating a settlement to their pay claim. Implementing Bain amounts to destroying the existing fire service, along with thousands of jobs and fatally weakening the FBU. Proposals include a reduction in crewing levels at night, flexible shifts, merging of control centres, introduction of pre-arranged overtime and training as paramedics.

The FBU rightly boycotted the Bain inquiry because it lacked independence. But for the FBU to describe Bain as "irrelevant" is inaccurate. For the proposals will clearly become the basis of the offer the employers are preparing for the New Year. The FBU's call for the government to stay out of the dispute and allow a negotiated deal is equally unrealistic.

New Labour is set on a course aimed at breaking the FBU and the conditions it has fought for and achieved over the last 20 years. That is what the firefighters' leaders have to acknowledge. The sums involved to settle the dispute are not large but New Labour has another agenda.

Blair's government wants to demonstrate to every worker that There Is No Alternative to a public sector run like big business. "Modernisation" to New Labour means flexible working, a reduced workforce, weakened unions and doing exactly what management demands. That is why the full force of the state and the media is employed to denigrate firefighters, even though their productivity and range of skills have increased enormously.

The FBU has put its future on the line by organising two strikes and defying New Labour. Now it has to develop a strategy that is equal to the challenge posed by Bain's proposals and their endorsement by Prescott, the deputy prime minister. The FBU's proposed course of action of short strikes at the end of January does not address the seriousness of the position that firefighters and the whole trade union movement finds itself in.

They will make no impact on the Blair government and leave the FBU dangerously isolated at a grave moment in the union's history. Firefighters cannot win this struggle on their own, which is no disgrace. What the FBU leaders must do as a matter of urgency is grasp the reality of the confrontation and appeal to other trade unions for backing.

Support of a financial kind and warm words is useful but will make no real difference. Only sympathetic industrial action can create the conditions for defeating New Labour. It's time for unions like the RMT to stop hiding behind the anti-union laws and lead their members into action alongside the firefighters. The FBU, RMT and other unions opposed to the government should at the same time announce proposals to ask their members to approve disaffiliation from a party that has effectively separated itself from the labour movement.

The breathing space the FBU has bought by suspending the strikes over Christmas can be turned to good advantage. New Labour has a growing crisis on a number of fronts, including pensions, transport and education. Their reactionary policies are beginning to unravel as the economy slides into slump.

Within weeks, New Labour plans to help the United States invade and occupy Iraq in pursuit of oil and to impose the rule of the global corporations in the Middle East. This is certain to create deep opposition in Britain and other countries. New Labour is a shallow regime with a narrowing base of support. Now is the time, therefore, for the FBU to grasp the nettle and work night and day to educate their members about the nature of the struggle that lies ahead.

Movement for a Socialist Future
December 16, 2002