|At the Downham FBU picket-line tonight
Just like teachers, firefighters are also determined to oppose those attacks and that's why members of the FBU took strike action tonight to protest at plans to raise the retirement age for firefighters from 55 to 60.
I took the Lewisham NUT banner to a picket-line at one of our local fire-stations in Downham. Tucked away at the edges of the borough, the FBU pickets were buoyed by support from NUT members, members of Bromley Trades Council and other local campaigners.
Since this government took office, 3,600 fire-fighter jobs have been cut. Control rooms have been merged and vital professionals have been removed. Numerous local stations are in line for closure, including Downham. One of the strikers had already been told where he is to be redeployed - despite the fact that a legal challenge is still to be heard opposing the closure!
However, there's another comparison that teachers need to take note of. The FBU had originally postponed a strike due to take place last month because of the offer of talks from the government. However, when it soon became clear that the offer was not acceptable, and with pressure building from below, particularly from London FBU, the action was quickly reinstated today - and continues on Monday morning.
Regrettably, teaching unions have postponed our action for at least two months. Given that it seems clear in advance that Gove is not making any serious concessions, we need to also be calling from below to get that action reinstated as quickly as possible as well.