Time For The Tuc To Call General Strike

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THE Fire Brigades Union has organised a national demonstration in London on Wednesday 16 October.

The FBU is under an all-out attack on the jobs, wages, and pensions of its members who are now menaced by plans to sack firefighters in their 50s, close large numbers of fire stations, and impose large-scale job losses.

The Fire Service is to be downsized by the coalition government, putting in great danger the lives and the property of the people of the UK.

The FBU has just had a four-hour national strike action in defence of its members’ pensions which won overwhelming support. John McDonnell MP said just before that strike: ‘Firefighters have my 100% backing for the industrial action they have been forced to take this week, and I will be joining local FBU picket lines to support my local firefighters in their campaign to protect their pension rights.

‘All the evidence demonstrates the physically arduous and dangerous nature of the work firefighters undertake. Forcing these dedicated professionals to work beyond their physical capacity not only puts their health at risk, it also increases the risk to safety of the general public. I am urging the government to see sense and get back to the negotiating table for constructive discussion to resolve this dispute.’

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of trade union PCS, said: ‘PCS offers its full solidarity to FBU members in their strike today in defence of the vital service they provide to us all.’

Paul Kenny, General Secretary of trade union GMB, said: ‘It is clear and unequivocal that we support the Fire Brigades Union position on its call for justice on their pensions, and I think people are particularly mystified and somewhat angry that the government ignored the findings of their own review when raising the retirement age to sixty for firefighters who have one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in our public services, defending as they do and protecting the lives of so many.’

Len McCluskey, General Secretary of the trade union Unite, said: ‘We recognise the importance of your struggle in fighting off this attempt to make firefighters work longer, pay more and get less. By standing together across the trade union movement we can fight for better public services, and for the people who work hard to deliver those services to be treated decently.’

Now the FBU has called a national demonstration on October 16th, it is more than obvious that the entire trade union movement must join this demonstration.

Meanwhile, the Tory government is now set to privatise the Royal Mail, an action which over 75% of the UK’s population is opposed to. The industry is to be privatised on October 16, the same day that CWU strike action ballots against some of the conditions that privatisation will introduce are to be counted. Legally, it will be a week before the CWU is allowed to take any action.

The bosses and the government are laughing. The industry is being stolen and handed over to the privateers right under the noses of the trade unions. Handed over with the Royal Mail to the privateers will be the jobs and wages of postal workers. The private owners will be desperate to break the union and casualise the industry by imposing a zero-contract regime.

Yesterday, the government was boasting that shares in the industry are being sold at a record rate.

The Labour party has already stabbed the postal workers in the back with its announcement that it will not renationalise the Royal Mail if it should become the government.

No doubt it will treat the firefighters, and the teachers who are stopping work on October 17th against the coalition government attacks, in exactly the same way.

The trade unions are being given no alternative by this rapacious government but to fight.

All trade unions must join the FBU’s national demonstration on October 16th, and turn it into a one-day general strike.

A massive demonstration and strike on the 16th will become the basis for forcing the TUC to call an indefinite general strike to bring down the government, and bring in a workers’ government and socialism. This is the only way forward. It must be taken!