Firefighters in England completed a 96 hour national strike over pensions as Solidarity went to press (31 Oct-4 Nov).
Firefighters have now taken more than 10 days of strikes in the increasingly bitter dispute over pensions. Reports from picket lines across England have shown solid levels of support from firefighters and widespread public sympathy.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) had expected movement from the government after a series of talks with Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt. The government three times delayed laying the regulations to give itself time for a new offer.
No new proposals were offered – the minister simply reiterated the position previously on the table from June, before she was appointed.
Some fire service employers have also hardened their position during these strikes. Buckinghamshire had already locked out firefighters for whole shifts during previous short strikes and obstructed union organisation.
When the four-day strikes were announced, the Bucks chief declared that the FBU had not done the legal paperwork properly and therefore the strike was illegal in the county. He did not take the case to court, but instead threatened firefighters with dismissal. Ricky Matthews, the executive council member for the region including Bucks, refused to work and was sacked.
The FBU deserves the solidarity of every worker and trade unionist as the next stage of the dispute unfolds.
National FBU reps’ meetings are being held in the week 3-8 November to discuss the next steps.