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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 June 2015

Fire service cuts a double-edged sword

Dave Murray

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.

Imposed

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.


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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.

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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?


Socialist history

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'


 

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