Friday 1 November 2013

A lesson for teachers - firefighters quickly reinstate action

At the Downham FBU picket-line tonight
Just like teachers, firefighters face attacks from a Government determined to cut the cost of public services and force workers to accept worse pay, pensions and conditions. Just like teachers, these cuts aren't just an attack on our livelihoods but also an attack on the communities that rely on these services.

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.

1 comment:

John Morton said...

Dear Martin
The union must find a way of escalating action which unites everyone. There has been only one indefinite strike action by the NUT post-war, in 1969/70 over pay. This can be a model for future NUT action, and other public sectors like the NHS. Three associations of the NUT,one in London, my own inj Birigham which was the largest single assoc. and in the North went out on indefinite strike over an annual pay claim of £145. The members were paid out of a sustentation fund levied on the other non-striking members. The Union won after some five weeks.
Of course teachers face a far more desparate enemy now and the stakes are much higher. For some reason I have not been able to find any reference on the NUT website to this first and so far last all-out action. I am sure you can find out more.
Best wishes
John |Morton retired member
john.morton123145@btinternet .com