Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Support a member led dispute

Perhaps the most refreshing thing I heard from an FBU speaker at this evening's Brixton meeting to build solidarity with the firefighters was his answer to a questioner who, in asking about the future of the dispute, advocated indefinite "all out" strike action.



What we were told was that this was a "member-led" dispute and that the tactics of the dispute going forward would be determined by the members.



This response is not only correct in principle - it is also tactically sound, since workers will not long endorse an approach to a dispute which we have not ourselves originated. Our trade unions should be just that - ours. The organisations of the ordinary workers paying our subs. The tactics of this dispute will be determined by firefighters.



That said, it seems clear that the intense provocation of the strikers by managers and scabs, including two incidents in which strikers were injured, is setting the scene for an escalation of action by the FBU if management don't back down.



This dispute now has totemic significance - if LFEPA can sack FBU members in order to re-engage them on less favourable terms, then every public sector employer will consider doing likewise - some already are.



Whatever the firefighters decide to do, the rest of us need to step up a gear with solidarity. The firefighters need our moral, financial and practical support in every way possible.



And, of course, let's all check our employer's fire risk assessments have been updated to take account of inadequate fire cover by barely trained scabs on strike days. Perhaps we should insist upon fire drills on each future strike day to check the adequacy of our employers safety arrangements.



In fact, why don't we press for co-ordinated fire drills?



We could all walk out of our workplaces when the FBU are on strike without contravening a single one of the anti-union laws...

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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