Friday, 5 November 2010

Firefighter strikes in london called off

London’s firefighters have called off the strike they had planned for tomorrow (Friday) after bosses agreed to go to arbitration.

The FBU union had planned to strike for 47 hours from 10am tomorrow, Bonfire Night, over bosses’ plans to sack all 5,500 London firefighters to force through worse shifts would lead to cuts to night-time fire cover.

But the union called the strike off tonight after the fire authority made a new offer and agreed to take it to arbitration at the Resolution Advisory Panel (RAP).

While they are in the arbitration, which is non-binding, the fire authority bosses have agreed to delay the mass sackings – although they have not been withdrawn.

This means that the London firefighters’ two eight-hour strikes so far have succeeded in getting a better offer – 13-hour night shifts and 11-hour days, with no "strings”. And this offer may be slightly improved during the arbitration process.

Bosses had originally wanted to change the firefighters’ existing 15-hour night and 9-hour day to an equal 12-hour day and night.

The fact that the bosses made a new offer at all shows that the Bonfire Night strike plan had them on the back foot. They knew how effective it would be, and how inadequate their scabbing operation is – which is why they have spent the last week waging war on the union in the media.

That’s why it was a mistake to call off the strikes. The union has clearly won some concessions – but it has lost the momentum it had on its side, and missed a key opportunity to stretch the private AssetCo scabbing operation beyond breaking point.

I have copied that exert from the socialist workers website. sums things up brilliantly to me. I am tentively pleased about this move. I think there was growing opposition to the firefighters striking on bonfire night, although i on a personal level was in favour of this, due to the pressure it heaped on the London fire brigade to sort this. I think this has ultimatly lead to this decision to take the dispute to the court of arbitration.

I can only commend the firefighters and their excellent professional attitude throughout this dispute. They have come out with their pride held high. They havent revertedt o smear tactics via the media like Brian coleman and his LFB boss's have clearly done.

I just hope now that the sacking notices can be fully retracted and they can all get around the table and thrash out a good deal for everyone concerned.

I'm pleased there will be no strike on bonfire night as this assures a win for the firefighters and teh firefighters union to keep public support on their side. I have been reminded constantly by fellow comrades on twitter that public support is key in any union vs management dispute so i'm glad that this will further strengthen the firefighters case and hopefully the unions too.

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