Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Firefighters rally against cuts

The strike may be off, but negotiations are still ongoing. The commissioner has reneged on his commitment to negotiate on the basis of 13 hour night shifts and 11 hour days, instead insisting on 12 hour day shifts and 12 hour nights (click the 'firefighters' tab at the bottom for background). Brian Coleman has tried to use the strike as itself an excuse to introduce cuts, saying that the strike proved that the fire service could work perfectly well without the 27 fire appliances that were removed from service so that Assetco could use them during strike days. He's now instructing the fire authority to look into getting rid of those appliances and, apparently, 500 jobs with them. So, management is recalcitrant, despite the olive branch from the FBU leadership earlier this month. Today, firefighters showed that they aren't cowed, and they aren't backing down. After a packed rally in central London, hundreds of firefighters took to the streets and blockaded Downing Street. They didn't get to occupy, sadly, but I would take this as a sign that any loss of momentum caused by calling off the strike over bonfire night weekend has not dampened the confidence of the firefighters' combativity. Socialist Worker's report is here.