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 finds itself in Prescott's trap

By all accounts, the talks between the Fire Brigades Union and the employers are getting nowhere. The employers, with the full backing of the government, still insist that any pay rises are linked to far-reaching changes that will undermine existing working conditions. This includes the abolition of the current shift system as a preparation for reducing fire cover. In addition, the employers want senior management to decide the level of fire cover at a local level.

The FBU leaders were lured back into talks by John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, after another round of highly successful strike action. This demonstrated that firefighters were determined to fight New Labour to the bitter end to defend what they had, let alone win a pay rise.

What the latest talks have revealed is that the FBU leaders walked into a trap set for them by a reactionary government that wanted to take the strikes off the agenda for cynical reasons. Prescott's main interest was to redeploy the troops involved in strike breaking to take part in the planned invasion of Iraq rather than allow room for a compromise pay deal.

All the talk of "negotiations without preconditions", which FBU leaders seized upon to abandon further strikes, has turned out to be just that - talk. The employers have come to the negotiations with the same agenda they have always had - pay rises in exchange for "modernisation" based on the Bain report's proposals. This is the report drawn up under government supervision that, if implemented, would destroy the fire service as well as severely weakening the FBU.

The FBU leadership has arrived at this position because it refuses to accept the political reality that New Labour is not interested in a compromise. It is intent on breaking the influence of the FBU and reorganising the fire service along the lines of business effciiency models. This is the intention throughout the public sector and defeat of the FBU would be a significant step along this road.

FBU executive members are desperate to ignore these conclusions and that is why their leadership during the strike has wavered from week to week. They don't want to acknowledge that New Labour is a capitalist government, whose policies are shaped primarily by corporate interests.

So instead of engaging in the struggle with confidence, calling on other unions to take solidarity action, and rejecting Prescott's plans to impose a settlement over the union's head, the FBU leadership is proving indecisive. This can only encourage the government and the employers.

While the FBU has searched for a non-existent compromise, the movement against the government over an attack on Iraq has grown to historic proportions. This massive rejection of New Labour's warmongering inspired both rail unions, the National Union of Journalists and college lecturers to demand that the TUC Congress is recalled to plan strikes against an invasion of Iraq.

This mass movement is an expression of the deep frustration felt by firefighters and others in society with both the political system and New Labour. Millions now go unrepresented by any traditional political party. Their right to vote, which previous generations fought and died for, is undermined as a result.

Progress is now impossible without a fundamental challenge to New Labour and the corporate interests they represent. That is what the FBU leaders should acknowledge at the union's recalled delegate conference on March 17, which may well coincide with an attack on Iraq. They should set in motion plans to disaffiliate from New Labour and relaunch their pay struggle.

The time has come to go beyond New Labour and build a new political movement that represents the views and aspirations of the majority. If you support this idea, sign up for the Voices for the Future conference on April 12 and start this process rolling.

Movement for a Socialist Future
Feburary 26, 2003

London FBU suspends all payments to New Labour

A motion calling for the immediate suspension of all payments to the Labour Party was passed by the London Regional Committee on 18 February. It was carried with just one abstention and no votes against.