Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/860/20925
From The Socialist newspaper, 17 June 2015
Fire service cuts a double-edged sword
Firefighters and 999 controllers in Essex struck overnight on 13 and 14 June. The action was the latest in a long-running dispute over staffing cuts and shift changes.
The number of full-time firefighters in Essex has fallen from 958 in 1989 to about 600 today. Bosses plan a further reduction of 179. Still more cuts will come down the line as the brigade pursues "Project 2020", meant to cut hundreds more frontline jobs and "save" £15 million.
Employers are spinning the numbers. True, the number of fire appliances is the same as ever - but what use is that if there are not the personnel to take them out?
The nightmare scenario is a major incident such as a high-rise fire. What if there aren't enough firefighters to deal with it within established bounds of safe practice? On this money-versus-lives calculation, the vast majority of the public is understandably with the firefighters.
This dispute has been going on for well over a year. The brigade has already imposed shift changes on 999 control which have forced staff into part-time work, or even off the job.
While these issues alone are contentious enough, behind them lies the bosses' ambition to undermine the union. Or as it has been put by senior figures on the employers' side, "wrestle the sword off the FBU."
Fire bosses need to be careful they don't cut themselves.
Donate to the Socialist Party
Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal
The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.
In The Socialist 17 June 2015:
Socialist Party news and analysis
A strategy to beat the bosses
Stop Osborne's cruel cuts
Tower Hamlets election - Labour's Mr Biggs wins
Fight the snoopers' charter!
Orgreave: Police violence and cover-up whitewashed by IPCC
Them & Us
Socialist Party feature
How can we stop austerity?
When organised mass action defeated the Tories
1985: How school students beat the Tories
Socialist Party workplace news
Bakery workers fight pay freeze and other cuts
School kitchen workers win £9.15 an hour
Fighting mood from Unison delegates
Fire service cuts a double-edged sword
Irony of victimised gardener
Workplace news in brief
International socialist news and analysis
Turkey: historic breakthrough for left
International news in brief
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Youth Fight Austerity: protest on 8 July!
Give us the resources to fight Tory attacks
Asylum solidarity - Justice for Janahan
Socialist Party comments and reviews
Fight back with the real socialists!
The real health and safety 'madness'
The Socialist 17 June 2015 |
Join the Socialist
| PDF | ebook