Public sector must strike alongside the firefighters!


‘You want a war pal, you’ve picked on the wrong union and we’re going to take you on and you will not win,’ GMB West Midlands Regional Organiser Joe Morgan GMB union warned Birmingham City Council leader Stephen Hughes.

Morgan was successfully moving ‘Emergency motion: E6 26,000 redundancy notices at Birmingham City Council’ at the TUC Congress on Wednesday.

Congress condemned the issuing of 26,000 redundancy notices by Birmingham City Council which has declared that it intends to make £230m of cuts by 2014, and demanded that the council leader either withdraw the notices, and the threat to sack workers, or resign.

However, the whole point about this declaration of war is that it is taking place throughout the public sector, and throughout the country.

Tens of thousands of public sector workers are currently being given redundancy notices, and are being told that they must sign new contracts, and accept much worse terms and conditions of service, or join the dole queues.

The tens of thousands of workers under threat is rapidly growing to hundreds of thousands as the class war is prosecuted throughout the public sector.

In fact, the private contractor Veolia is seeking to follow the example of Birmingham Council.

The GMB has reported that Veolia has issued an official HR1 form putting Veolia public service contract workers on 90 days notice of their intention to unilaterally make them redundant, dismiss them and re-engage them on lesser terms and conditions.

The union has also declared that ‘If GMB is not successful at meetings to avert cuts GMB officials will be going to the GMB Central Executive Council (CEC) seeking authority for a strike ballot to take place to oppose these cuts.’

Veolia workers are employed on 196 contracts all across the UK doing a wide variety of jobs under contract to councils. These include 16 London Boroughs, Birmingham City Council, Manchester City Council, Trafford Council, and countless other councils.

Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer said, ‘What Veolia is doing is completely unacceptable and will not be accepted by the many GMB members working on these contracts.’

Yesterday mid-day 2,500 London FBU firefighters marched from the Aldwych to the Waterloo, London Fire Brigade headquarters to protest against the commencement of the process to sack all of 6,000 London firefighters, and re-engage only those willing to accept the Fire Authority’s new requirements.

Ballot papers for strike action are to go out in seven days time.

The threats to put tens of thousands of public sector workers on the dole unless they agree to new terms and conditions of service are an attempt to terrorise workers with the threat of unemployment and impose a ruling class dictatorship over the trade unions, ripping up all previous agreements made with them.

The Councils, the privateers like Veolia and the government behind them must be defeated. The only way is through strike action by the whole public sector, supported by all trade unions, to smash this attack and bring down the nasty, brutish coalition regime that stands behind it.

When the London firefighters come out, the whole public sector must come out with them, and the struggle must be spread into the private sector unions.

There is only one way that the economic and political crisis can be resolved. The TUC must be made to call a general strike that will bring down the coalition and bring in a workers government that will carry out socialist policies.