FBU members say "all out together"

25th September 2013

“We should all be out. That’s the only way we’ll beat them.” This was a sentiment that was repeated again and again to Swansea Socialist Party members & delegates to the Trades Council as we visited local FBU picket lines today. Other strikers said that they thought that longer, sustained strike action would be needed.

Before visiting the picket lines, the Trades Council had put out a press release containing a statement of support for FBU strikers and pointing out that public safety and the quality of the fire and rescue services are at risk along with firefighters’ pensions.

Fire chiefs had upset a number of retired former firefighters by trying to recruit them to a scab force to break strike action. Some of these had denounced this practice in the local paper. Strikers told us that they knew people who had applied to join the brigade and been accepted but told that there weren’t any current vacancies; they had then received written invitations to provide cover for today’s strike. FBU members also believe that firefighters willing to work today, had been brought to Swansea from as far away as Aberystwyth.

Mid and West Wales service bosses had created scab HQ in a training centre at Earlswood, on the approaches to Swansea. FBU members picketing the site were delighted by a CWU member refusing to deliver post to the site and pledged to support the CWU in turn when they take strike action against privatisation of Royal Mail.

At the most visible station, there was a constant honking of car horns by passers-by to show support. Some of the picket lines were small but more than one firefighter told us that they didn’t want to picket at their station because they didn’t want to be asked to go out on a shout. There was a determination to fight but many strikers thought that the FBU’s best chance of defeating the government is as part of wider action, involving other unions. They all agreed with the idea of a 24 hour general strike on the NSSN leaflets we distributed. We also sold several copies of the Socialist.

Alec Thraves, Swansea Trades Council

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