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Workers under attack
Organising the fightback
Firefighters demonstrate against the threat of mass sackings, photo Suzanne Beishon (Click to enlarge)
Three days after the announcement of the government's savage spending cuts London's firefighters will be on strike. Trade unionists and community campaigners from all over the capital will march behind them on the London anti-cuts demo to say "No to Cuts!"
Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party
London firefighters have answered their bullying bosses with a massive vote for strike action. Their anger and determination is clear: they voted by 3,482 to 943 to take strike action unless the Fire Brigade Commissioner withdraws his letters of dismissal. The fire bosses want to impose changes in terms and conditions by sacking London's 5,557 uniformed and 41 non-operational firefighters.
The majority was 79% and the turnout was 79%. Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: "This is a huge vote for strike action. Firefighters hate going on strike - but they hate being bullied even more. This vote demonstrates that London firefighters will fight these mass sackings every step of the way."
The strike on Saturday 23 October starts at 10am and firefighters will go straight to the RMT HQ at Chalton Street, near Euston and Kings Cross stations, to lead the London anti-cuts march.
Saturday 23 October is the day named by the TUC for regional days of action. In Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast trade unionists will demonstrate. In England some trade union leaders hoped that this would be a 'day of inaction', with a few tame indoor rallies. But, from below, a cry of rage has gone up and workers will be on the march in several towns and cities.
The London demonstration has been called by London FBU, RMT (rail workers), PCS (civil servants), NUT (teachers) and the National Shop Stewards Network, and is also backed by London UCU (college and university lecturers) and CWU (postal workers).
Strike action by RMT and TSSA (both unions that organise tube workers) on London Underground began over 800 job cuts. But now London Underground is planning hundreds more cuts, taking the total to more than 2,000 job losses. These unions will be starting a third day of strike action a week after the demo if management refuses to move.
PCS members are facing massive cuts in the Ministry of Justice and across the board, as well as cuts to pay, compensation (redundancy) and pensions. Postal workers will join the march to defend Royal Mail against privatisation and to protest at the planned closure of mail centres across London.
Massive cuts are faced by universities, further education and schools. Young people, having organised protests at colleges and universities all over the country on 20 October, will join the march behind the Youth Fight for Jobs banner.
The strike action and demos on 23 October are important in themselves. But they also show the central role that working class people, organised in trade unions, play in the fight against cuts. The London demo has been called by those trade unions at the front of fighting the cuts right now, with an appeal to all workers and community campaigns to come along with them.
This is why the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) has called an anti-cuts conference on 22 January, appealing to all trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigns - so that the might of organised working class people is at the heart of an anti-cuts movement, which draws together trade unionists and community campaigners into a formidable force.
22 January, 12-4pm
South Camden Community School, Charrington St London NW1 1RG
Near Euston station
In The Socialist 20 October 2010:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
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