Dead Men Left

Thursday, August 05, 2004

FBU: Labour "sabotage"?

How do we square this:

A ballot of firefighters on new national strike action has been branded "irresponsible" by the Government as it emerged back-up cover from the military may not be ready in time for any walkout.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) confirmed that the armed forces will begin training in preparation for action by firefighters, which could start as early as September 7.

A spokesman said: "This latest ballot for industrial action by the FBU is wholly irresponsible.
"Further strikes by the union put lives and property at risk.

"However, public safety is paramount.

"That is why the Government is reluctantly starting the training of the armed forces personnel for firefighting duty."

With this:

Labour Party hardliners are involved in a last-ditch attempt today to sabotage an agreement aimed at averting fresh national industrial action by firefighters, according to a senior management source.

Some Labour local authority representatives are seeking to derail an outline deal worked out with the Fire Brigades Union in weeks of negotiations ending last Thursday, it is understood.


It is understood that local- authority representatives from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including Labour councillors, are in favour of a settlement. However some Labour councillors from England, together with Conservatives, are opposed to it.

This sounds remarkably similar to what then occurred. Following previous hopes that a deal had been reached, brokered by the TUC and accepted by all sides, the local authority employers suddenly backed away. If it is "irresponsible" for firefighters to act in defence of their pay and conditions, how much more irresponsible would it be for a governing party to apparently provoke their action? Between the civil servants and the firefighters, the government gives every indication of spoiling for a fight in the public sector. Significantly, both the FBU, which recently voted to break its ties with the Labour Party, and the PCS, with its notorious "Trot" general secretary, Mark Serwotka, have been at the forefront of challenging New Labour's political hold over the trade union movement. The stakes for the Left are raised rather high.