A solid picket-line formed outside Lewisham Fire Station all day with striking FBU members cheered by the constant tooting of passing cars - showing that many other workers had not been taken in by the press attacks.
Pickets explained that:
"this dispute has been brewing a long time. Management are always 'take' but no 'give', taking advantage of our goodwill every time. They want to run the fire-service as if it's a business".
"When the redundancy notices were followed up by threats of pay deductions, the mood hardened. We've people join the union this time who weren't on strike in the last dispute"
"The response has been great from the guys at the station - and from the public too"
"On Saturday, we thought that the AssetCo scabs might come to Lewisham - but it appears they have moved in on some other stations today. But when Boris Johnson tries to say they can provide proper cover, anyone listening to the chaos on the radio channels last Saturday could tell they didn't know what they were doing. It seems that they've changed tactics today because we haven't been able to pick up the radio traffic yet".
However, later in the day it became clear that the change of 'tactics' had taken on a more sinister turn. As I visited the Forest Hill picket line, news came through of a picket being hit by a manager's car on the Croydon picket line. Then, in Southwark, an AssetCo engine struck Ian Leahair, FBU National Executive member. Both pickets were hospitalised although fortunately Ian's injuries are not too serious.
These attacks on trade unionists engaged in lawful trade union activity will only help convince public opinion that the Fire Authority is acting in a bullying and unreasonable manner in this dispute, not the FBU. I have sent a letter of complaint to the Fire Authority and encouraged others to do so too.
Teachers and other trade unionists should make every effort to get down to the FBU picket lines on Friday and stand in solidarity with fire-fighters taking action to defend their conditions and our fire service.