Simon Wall, Brigade Chair of the North Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union (FBU), met with the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in Harrogate today. Simon expressed his support for TUSC candidate Paul Viney in High Harrogate and a joint FBU/TUSC campaign was agreed against cuts to the fire service in the town.
North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service have proposed a number of cuts to local fire services in the Fire Cover Review, released on 12th January. The Fire Cover Review includes proposals to:
- Reduce the number of fire engines able to respond to calls in five minutes from 46 to 27
- Introduce 12 hour shifts for firefighters
- Reduce the number of full-time staff, replacing them with part-time, retained firefighters and using volunteers
- No guarantees around redundancies – the Chief Executive of North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service has stated that his interest is in “providing a cost-effective service to the public and not in providing employment”
The proposed cuts will hit front-line services and pose a huge threat to public safety. Simon Wall stated that “I don’t think the service has ever been in such a worrying position that they are in now”.
Support the firefighters – back the strikes!
Firefighters in the FBU union will be striking for 24 hours from 7am on 25th February in their battle against government changes to pensions. 57 FBU members from North Yorkshire are travelling to the national demonstration in London which is taking place on the same day.
Tory fire minister Penny Mordaunt lied to MPs in order to get the new pensions deal through parliament which changes the firefighters’ retirement age from 55 to 60. Mordaunt gave MPs a guarantee that no firefighter will have to take a reduced pension if they retire before 60 because of failing a fitness test. However, the FBU wrote to local fire authorities to confirm these legal guarantees and every authority that replied stated that no such legal guarantee was in place.
For a socialist perspective on the firefighters strikes, see the following article from Dave Pitt, a West Midlands firefighter and TUSC prospective parliamentary candidate for Dudley North:
TUSC: A socialist alternative to austerity
All the establishment parties, including UKIP, are committed to austerity and cuts. In contrast, TUSC candidates reject the claim that some cuts are necessary or that the national debt is a reason for austerity.
TUSC candidates for the local elections are standing on a platform of opposing all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions. All TUSC councillors will:
- Vote for councils to refuse to implement the cuts. We will support councils which in the first instance use their reserves and prudential borrowing powers to avoid making cuts. We argue that the best way to mobilise the mass campaign that is necessary to defeat the dismantling of council services is to set a budget that meets the needs of the local community and demand that government funding makes up the shortfall
- Use all the legal powers available to councils to oppose both the cuts and government policies which centrally impose the transfer of public services to private bodies. This includes using councils’ powers to refer local NHS decisions, initiate referenda and organise public commissions and consultations in campaigns to defend public services
For further information about TUSC policies, see: http://www.tusc.org.uk/policy
If you would like to help with Paul Viney’s campaign in Harrogate against the proposed fire service cuts and in defence of our local services, please contact harrogatesocialists[at]gmail.com