The Fire Brigades Union is angry over the recommendations of "time and motion consultants", who have previously been brought into the Hertfordshire brigade, where a strike resulted. The Union has commissioned accountants to find the £3m worth of savings the fire service insists it must make, without putting the public at increased risk. It suggests placing money saved up in funds into immediate budgets and postponing high-cost educational projects while the deficit is reduced. It also wants to maintain the current station on the waterfront, rather than moving out of the city centre to the proposed £1 million ‘Fireworld’ building in St Anne Street.
But why does that amount of money need to be saved anyway, when the government spends tens of billions per year on ‘defence’?
Ironically, if the strike does go ahead, then army green goddesses will not be able to provide cover, since the Territorial Army is on standby for callout to Afghanistan, protecting an oil pipeline for George Bush and his business buddies.
Secretary of Merseyside Fire Brigades Union Les Skarratts spoke of the dilemma the firefighters face.
"None of us wants a strike, and we hope it will be avoided. But there is an acute requirement for the authority to undertake serious and mature discussions with us.
"We have been given permission by the executive council to ballot for strike action and we will do so if the talks break down.
"We have got about three weeks of consultation with the authority left. Time is running out."
The mainstream media is bound to go for the throats of Merseyside FBU if they do strike, since the area would be without cover. But it is important to remember three things. First, they are trying to make sure there will be at least as many firefighters and fire engines in the future. Second, there will only be no cover because the army is standing by to go to Afghanistan. Third, part of the reason the government makes these cuts is that they are spending so much on war!