‘LIVES will be at risk’ if Manchester is targeted again by terrorists because a specialist fire service unit has shut, a watchdog warned yesterday.
Concerns about Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s (GMFRS) ability to respond to attacks were raised by government inspectors.
The chief fire officer said it only applied to a marauding firearms attack.
Manchester FBU have been taking industrial action in response.
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union, general secretary, said: ‘From the start we have tried to discuss national proposals to expand firefighters’ roles to cover “marauding terrorist firearms attacks” (MTFAs).
‘We have been willing to take the necessary steps to bring firefighters in to the aftermath of terrorist incidents, with the essential protections in place.
‘Responsibility for the delay in resolving this rests entirely with fire service employers and central government who have been complacent throughout these discussions.
‘In our view there needs to be much wider planning and preparation for such terrorist attacks.
‘Every firefighter in the country needs to be trained and equipped for any incident they might be sent to.’
Meanwhile, the FBU has become the first union in the country to back a fresh campaign entitled: ‘Fight to free our unions’ which fights to repeal all anti union laws.
The FBU said: ‘Anti-union laws, severely restricting the right to organise and take industrial action, are a barrier to workers defending their interests and building up the labour movement’s strength. All of them – from David Cameron’s 2016 Trade Union Act back to the first of many laws passed under Margaret Thatcher, from 1980 – need to go.
‘That was the clear message from this year’s FBU conference. Delegates unanimously passed a resolution from Suffolk brigade making the FBU the first national union to formally support the Free Our Unions campaign, set up last year and backed by union branches across the country.’
The motion calls for a clear commitment from the Labour Party to repeal all anti-union laws and replace them with strong legal rights for workers and unions.
On this issue Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said that John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, had pledged Labour would repeal the punitive 2016 Trade Union Act.
He said: ‘While that is an important and necessary step 2016 was the culmination of decades of government antagonism to unions, not the beginning.
‘A Labour government needs to support and build the labour movement. That means tackling the decades of anti-union legislation we suffer under.
‘Nearly 30 years after her resignation, Thatcher-era union-busting laws remain in place. The Labour government that we fight for must repeal all of the UK’s anti-union laws and deliver a revolution in workers’ rights.’