notes from an fbu picket line

by Joe Thorne

The FBU has held two eight hour strikes in the past fortnight.  The cause?  The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) has threatened to unilaterally impose new terms and conditions, specifically a new shift pattern, and has said that any of the 5,500 London fire fighters not willing to sign up to them will be sacked.

The 90 day consultation period, which they are entitled to under law, expires on 26 November.  The LFEPA board meets for the last time before this on 18 November, and will decide whether to press ahead.  The FBU is therefore seeking to put the pressure on before this date.  If the changes are forced through regardless, it does not necessarily mean the fight is over – but it’s clear that the coming weeks are important. A 47 hour strike will therefore be held beginning on Friday, 5 November, at 10am.  Bonfire night. Continue reading “notes from an fbu picket line”

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fire brigade: will london burn?

The inside story of what is really happening in the London Fire Brigade, as told to The Commune.

16th September 2010 and the London left descend on the London Fire Brigade Headquarters to join the mass lobby of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) monthly meeting called by Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and Unison LFEPA Branch.

the FBU are perceived as militant, but we need to break down the division between 'frontline' and 'support' staff

The headlines of the ’left’ press only tell part of the story: ‘FBU up the ante in contract dispute’ (Morning Star 17th September), ‘London Firefighters ready to strike against dismissal threat’ (Newsline 18th September), ‘Brutal bosses? Time to fight back!’ (The Socialist 23rd-29th September) and ‘The ballot is on to save fire jobs’ (Socialist Worker 25th September). Continue reading “fire brigade: will london burn?”

the people’s charter: a charter for change? – updated

In recent weeks and months a “People’s Charter” has been elaborated by a commission involving a number of leaders of the trade unions and the left, notably the leadership of the RMT railworkers’ union but also John McDonnell MP, leading officials in other broadly radical trade unions such as the FBU and NUT, and prominent members of Respect and the Communist Party of Britain. This “charter for change” has not yet been finalised, but it appears that its text will be decided upon and then launched at a rally, rather than openly and democratically discussed across wider layers of our movement. We disapprove of the manner in which this project has been carried out, and do not think much of the current raft of “programmes for government action” issued by left groups which say little about what action we ourselves must take and what movement we need to do it.

However, we publish this draft of the document (see below) in the hope that it will provoke discussion and allow dissenting voices in the labour movement like our own to be heard: as always, feel free to post comments and replies. A more thoroughgoing analysis and critique appears in the second issue of The Commune. Continue reading “the people’s charter: a charter for change? – updated”