The FBU has called a further 24 hour strike in England on Wednesday 25 February, starting at 7 am, in its long-running pensions campaign. The union has also called a demonstration at Westminster at noon on the day of the strike.
The strike was called after the union exposed a sham “guarantee” given in parliament to enable ministers to force through their unworkable proposals.
On 15 December, the government pushed through new firefighters’ pension scheme regulations. During the debate, fire minister Penny Mordaunt gave a clear guarantee in parliament that firefighters aged 55 who failed a fitness test through no fault of their own would receive a full, unreduced pension or a redeployed role. This guarantee was subsequently confirmed by Secretary of State Eric Pickles.
However employers’ organisations in the fire and rescue service have said they cannot guarantee such an arrangement with firefighters who can’t maintain their fitness. It means firefighters in England still face the prospect of “no job, no pension” as they get older.
The FBU held a special recall conference last week, which voted to continue the pensions campaign. Delegates resolved to carry on with political, legal and industrial action, telling ministers that firefighters were not going to go away. Although some brigades – particularly London – wanted a more aggressive strike strategy, the majority of delegates agreed with the leadership’s approach.
There was little organised left intervention at the conference. A Socialist Party leaflet called for strikes of 4 to 8 days duration, a long way from where most delegates were, plus the obligatory anti-Labour TUSC call.
Similarly, a half-hearted SWP leaflet called for more strikes and little else politically.