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To win on pensions and to defend the FBU...

GET STRIKES
BACK
ON

THE CAMPAIGN ON
pensions must continue.
This is the statement
our union leaders are making
to the recall conference in
Manchester.
In it they also identify four
main tasks (1) ensure delivery of
fire minister Penny Mordaunts
parliamentary guarantee on no
job, no pension, or expose it
as a lie (2) continue lobbying
politicians in the run-up to the
general election (3) demand
Labour pledges to improve
pensions if elected and (4)
consider further industrial action
on our own and/or co-ordinated
with other unions.
On the face of it there is much
to agree with, but Mordaunts
words in parliament have already
been exposed by the employers
lawyers who have confirmed
nothing has changed. Moreover
her refusal to write any guarantees
into the pensions regulations
shows she has no intention of
compelling fire authorities to pay
unreduced pensions in the event
of any firefighter being unfit to
continue.

Escalation

Lobbying politicians and


demanding Labour pledges to
improve pensions will not by itself
guarantee improvements as we
saw in the recent parliamentary
debate and especially as Labour
has committed itself to Tory
spending limits.
This leaves us with the

with.
But anyone with any nous
knew that Mordaunt was as
committed as her predecessor to
implementing the Tory attack.
(continued overleaf)

FBU members
Fightback meeting

Whats the
next step for
the FBU?

Essex pickets

industrial strategy. Again there


are no guarantees, but one thing is
definitely clear. Without a serious
escalation in the strike strategy we
have been unable to improve our
position and we cannot win. This
is the real lesson of the pension
campaign so far.
Chief Officers were squealing
with pain during the summer
when we escalated to four days
back to back. The scabbing
operations were stretched to the
limit and further protracted strikes
had the real potential of breaking
them.

Failed

Unfortunately instead of pressing


home our advantage our union
leaders failed to call immediate
further strikes and settled into
talks with the new fire minister
who they said was easier to work

Monday 9 February, 7pm,


Waldorf Hotel,
12 Gore Street,
Manchester M1 3AQ
(upstairs)
Just a few minutes walk from the
conference venue
All FBU members welcome.
Speakers:
Les Skarratts, FBU secretary Region 5
Gary Keary, FBU secretary Greater Mcr
Paul Embery, FBU secretary London

Talks were just another stalling


tactic designed to relieve the
pressure of our strike action and
undermine the momentum of our
union.
Moreover the stop start nature
of strikes and their short duration,
coupled with the failure to
respond with more strikes to the
Bucks lockout, has fuelled the
bosses confidence to mount more
attacks (Essex, Leicestershire and
Lancashire most recently) and to
victimise FBU members such as
Ricky Matthews.

Election

The EC statement says that


the union needs to assess the
different approaches required by
devolution, political campaigning,
the introduction of secondary
legislation and the approaching
general election.
Of course all these things
should be considered, but there
are three other things that need
assessing too (1) The actions
of our union leadership (2) the
willingness of the rank and file
to fight and (3) the impact of
our union leaders actions on the
fighting confidence of members.
The 79 percent yes vote, the
loyal response to every period of
strike action called, the political
lobbying, local demonstrations
and campaigning throughout
England and Wales demonstrate
the fighting capacity of FBU
members for which the EC
rightly congratulates them in its
statement.

Undermined

But the actions of our leaders


have not met the aspirations of
members.
Taking Scottish FBU members
out of the fight undermined
us. Failing to call longer and
more frequent strikes and not
responding to the Bucks lockout
with more strike action further
undermined us.
Our union leaders attempts
to maintain a united FBU has
consistently meant theyve
designed our strategy around the
least confident elements in the
union instead of responding to

Fighting cuts in Basildon

the continued calls from London,


GMC, Merseyside and Essex for
a harder hitting strike strategy.
Fighting throughout the union
for stronger action wouldnt be
easy. But the role of our union
leaders is to lead and develop our
strengths, not tail and develop our
weaknesses.
The recall is an opportunity to
re-invigorate our fight. We must
take a sober look at the actions of
all levels of the union and see that
the only way out is to fight.

Its not too late

As the EC says in its statement


we are facing the worst cuts since
1945 and that this attack is part
of a class-based, UK wide and
international onslaught.
Things cannot get better unless
we reject the ruling classes
attempt, enforced by government
austerity to make workers pay for
the crisis.
To do this we must (1) Be
prepared to strike and strike hard

(2) demand our union leaders


both campaign for and call these
strikes or we must replace them
with union leaders who will and
(3) insist there can be no deal
without the full reinstatement of
Ricky Matthews and anyone else
in a similar position (4) build
a credible political alternative
to Labour which rejects
austerity and unites workers
against austerity and the racist
scapegoating of migrants and
Muslims pushed by the right in
order to divide us.
The Greeks have shown us the
way by rejecting racism, striking
hard and uniting behind the left
wing party Syriza.
We have our own opportunity
now to get strike action back on
and to support political candidates
like those of the Trade Unionist
and Socialist Coalition who are
committed to supporting workers
struggles and fighting austerity.
We urge everyone to build the
fightback.

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