Tag Archives: FBU

Firefighters’ union will stand up for Grenfell victims, even if the inquiry won’t

Grief: Firefighters found it hard to keep themselves together as they dealt with the tragedy at Grenfell Tower. [Image: PA].

What a great announcement by the Fire Brigades Union – this has put the official inquiry on notice that it will not simply judge; it will also be judged.

Firefighters who were called to the Grenfell fire were deeply affected – emotionally – by what they found there. If anybody is likely to know whether corners were cut and regulations that should have been followed were ditched instead, they will. And they will make their point forcefully.

Perhaps one reason for this is the government’s treatment of firefighters themselves.

It isn’t very long since firefighters were staging strikes about Tory-imposed changes to their pension entitlements. The Conservatives unilaterally imposed a rise in the level of contributions firefighters must make to their pensions, meaning they would have less pay in their pockets, and they also raised the age of retirement from 55 to 60, meaning fewer firefighters are likely ever to receive a pension as many members may fail the fitness test required to remain on active duty, and would have to leave the service – without qualifying for a pension – as a result.

So firefighters have first-hand experience of being given a hosing by the Tories. It’s a joy to see they won’t stand by and let it happen to others.

The head of the Fire Brigades Union has described the Grenfell Tower disaster as a “crime” that should topple the government amid warnings over a boycott of the national inquiry.

FBU chief Matt Wrack said the tower block fire was a “national political scandal” and called for ministers to be hauled before the inquiry to answer questions about why regulations were cut.

The union will walk away from the official inquiry if it is seen by survivors and firefighters as a “pointless stitch up”, Mr Wrack warned.

Read more: Grenfell Tower fire is a ‘crime’ that should topple the government, says Fire Brigade Union chief


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Fire union chief attacks terms of Grenfell inquiry – because they will not identify the culprits

Work begins on covering Grenfell Tower with protective wrapping [Image: Tang/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock].

This Writer agrees with, supports and applauds the words of Matt Wrack, head of the Fire Brigades Union.

It seems clear that Theresa May wants a whitewash. She must not be allowed to have her way.

So what is to be done?

The head of the Fire Brigades Union, whose members rushed to save Grenfell Tower residents, has criticised the failure to have the judge-led inquiry into the disaster look at its social and political context.

Matt Wrack said that under its current terms the investigation would fail to answer crucial questions. He said it seemed designed to protect Whitehall from scrutiny and would exacerbate the hurt felt by survivors and the families of those who died.

Wrack said: “How is it remotely possible to seriously examine the causes, spread and results of the fire without examining ‘social, economic and political’ matters?”

He called the decision a “mighty kick of some really fundamental issues into some very long grass”. “There is clearly no intent from government for any wider inquiry or serious debate,” he said.

Source: Fire chief criticises terms of inquiry into Grenfell Tower blaze | UK news | The Guardian


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Britain’s biggest trade union supports Corbyn’s bid for Labour leadership

v218-Jeremy-Corbyn-Get-v2

Unite, the UK’s largest trade union and the Labour Party’s biggest donor, has urged its members to support Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership campaign.

The union’s decision is believed to be a reaction against the other leadership candidates’ support for policies of fiscal austerity.

Corbyn wants the party to reject austerity. Britain’s largest transport union, the RMT; the train drivers’ union, Aslef; the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) have also backed him.

Unions are expected to have less influence on this year’s contest, because the party has moved to a one member, one vote system for choosing its leader. This may be a reaction against criticisms that Labour’s last leader, Ed Miliband, only won his place with union backing.

Corbyn only made it onto the ballot paper at the last minute, with support from fellow MPs who thought – correctly – that his presence would widen the debate.

With the left-winger now winning support from the unions and the wider Labour-supporting public, could Labour end up with a leader the public supports, but his own MPs don’t?

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Here’s why firefighters are on strike

141102firefighterstrike

If you’re one of those who thinks firefighters are not justified in their battle with the government over pensions, just copy the image above and look at it until you realise that they are.

Strikes are being held in protest at changes to pensions and the retirement age, which the Fire Brigades Union has claimed could lead to firefighters losing their jobs if they fail fitness tests in their late 50s.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, asked in The Guardian: “How can it be remotely fair that the prime minister, already a millionaire, enjoys a far greater subsidy from his employer in absolute and proportional terms than a firefighter who is earning less than £30,000 a year? It is sickening hypocrisy.”

And TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Once again the government is showing its contempt for public-service workers. Evidence warns that raising the normal retirement age for firefighters would lead to older fighters facing no job and no pension after years of good service.”

Still think the firefighters are wrong? Then look at the people arguing against them and ask yourself whether they belong to one of the groups that have, in recent times, committed expenses fraud, taken huge unjustified bonuses (consequently jeopardising the economy), or avoided paying huge amounts of tax – either personally or as representatives of one or several corporations.

You should be burning with rage at what our spiteful Tory-led government is planning to do to older firefighters – those who have spent most of their lives saving others.

If you are, it’s one blaze that our firefighters won’t be in a hurry to extinguish.

Additional: After this article was published, the following picture appeared on Twitter:

141102firefightersacked

What do you think of people being sacked because they went on strike?

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Penny Mordaunt is putting all our lives at risk by forcing firefighters to strike

Picket line: FBU members on strike in June this year.

Picket line: FBU members on strike in June this year.

You know the government is on a sticky wicket when its only response to strike action over pensions is that its position is “fair”.

The Fire Brigades Union will be on strike for three hours every day up to and including August 16 after the new fire minister, Penny Mordaunt, cancelled a meeting.

The Conservative-led Coalition government is hitting firefighters with a double-barrelled attack:

  • Firstly, it is raising the level of contributions firefighters must make to their pensions, meaning they will have less pay in their pockets;
  • And it is also raising the age of retirement from 55 to 60, meaning fewer firefighters are likely ever to receive a pension as many members may fail the fitness test required to remain on active duty, and would have to leave the service – without qualifying for a pension – as a result.

If firefighters opted to retire early, the resulting reduction in their pension payments would be “unacceptably high” to the union.

“Government proposals as they stand include a number of unacceptable elements including firefighters being forced to work until 60 – an age at which the enormous physical demands of the job are beyond most of us. Both sides have identified that there are possible solutions to these issues but the Government is unwilling to amends its proposals,” said FBU Assistant General Secretary Andy Dark yesterday (Friday).

He made sure to lay the blame exactly where it belonged: “Firefighters hate striking. We believe that Winston Churchill was right to say ’Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war.’ That is why we are astounded by the cancellation of the last-minute talks by Ms Mordaunt on Thursday.

“It is a bitter disappointment that she cancelled them and made this series of strikes inevitable.”

The government’s only response has been a claim that its irresponsible demands are “fair”.

No doubt there will be many government stooges who are keen to say firefighters are placing people in danger by taking this action. They are silly, silly people.

It is the government that is endangering us all, by putting firefighters in an impossible position.

These Tories are telling firefighters to contribute more to a fund from which they may never benefit.

They are saying that, if they want their pension but their fitness is failing, they’ll have to fake it for the extra years – putting untold numbers of future fire victims and people in need of rescue in extra danger. This would also bring the service into disrepute.

And they are telling people who want to be firefighters not to bother – that they will be putting their lives at risk for an ever-diminishing reward.

By doing so, the Tories and their little yellow friends the Tory Democrats are putting all of our lives at risk.

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