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Victory to the firefighters!

SA national executive committee resolution

'All the signs are that the government has precipitated a deliberate confrontation with the fire fighters in order to inflict a heavy defeat on them. John Prescott intervened to read the riot act to the FBU and then the Bain report was brought forward, which sabotaged realistic pay negotiations by introducing a wide ranging reorganisation of the fire service.

'Blair sees the strike as a strategic battle which he has to win. We have to do the same. Blair has said no government could give way to the demand the FBU is making because the result would be follow up claims from other workers in the public sector. The fire fighters are therefore to be defeated in order to intimidate other public sector workers from pursuing their own wage demands.. A press campaign to vilify the fire fighters on public safety is taking place in the media to back this up.

'The government is also saying that if the next eight day strike goes ahead the army may well be told to enter the fire stations and take control of the equipment normally used by the fire fighters. Training exercises are already taking place on such equipment. The first purpose of this is to try to intimidate the FBU into calling off the strike. The union is unlikely to be intimidated and it is therefore possible that troops may be used in this way. This would be a huge escalation on behalf of the employers and the government and would throw down a challenge to the whole trade union movement. John Monks has already said that the first obligation is to public safety-in other words the TUC would not oppose such actions.

'Politically the response of new Labour to the fire fighters marks a new stage in its offensive against the unions and its willingness to act directly on behalf of the employers. This has implications for the relationship between the unions and New Labour and gives a new urgency to the campaign around the political fund. It also gives new urgency to the fight to build the SA as a socialist alternative to new Labour.

'The tremendous solidarity shown with the fire fighters by London underground workers and other refusing to work without fire safety cover shows the level of support which can be generated. The SA and all local groups should therefore give full support to the fire fighters by:

  • Supporting the FBU picket lines
  • Joining local support groups and helping to set them up where they don't exist.
  • Distributing the SA leaflet on the strike as widely as possible
  • Inviting FBU speakers to your union branch and Socialist Alliance meeting
  • Campaigning for solidarity with the FBU
  • Organising cash collections for the fire fighters
  • Organising workplace walkouts over safety cover
  • Stepping up the fight on the political fund
  • Building a socialist alternative to new labour'

Passed unanimously 16 November 2002


Previous SA Exec resolution, 20 October 2002

SA National Office bulletin

Firefighter support groups and meetings

SA 'Victory to the firefighters' leaflet (94Kb pdf file)
FBU support petition (177Kb pdf file)
SA window poster (A4), 'Pay our firefighters' (73Kb pdf file)
SA support leaflet #1 (108Kb pdf file)
FBU notices FAO workplace safety reps (60Kb pdf file)

Fair Pay For The Fire Service website
FBU website
LabourNet UK

George Binette's The last night London burned - details


Socialist Alliance Trade Union Activists' Meeting


Socialist Alliance's first trade union conference

SA's trade union conference saw the Camden Centre packed - 1,038 delegates registered - the biggest conference of rank and file trade unionists for two decades.


Democratising TU funds pamphlet

Copies of Matt Wrack's Socialist Alliance pamphlet on democratising trade union funds - Whose money is it anyway? - can be obtained from the SA office at £5.00 for 10 or £1.00 each.

Contact the SA office to order copies:
tel: 020 7609 2999