Seven weeks ago, Merseyside firefighters overwhelmingly voted to strike against the cuts proposed by the Fire and Rescue Authority and demanded by the government.
Today marked the second day of Merseyside FBU's second round of strike action. Unlike in previous disputes, there is no military cover, since the Territorial Army are involved in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kazakhstan.
In response, FBU chairman Mark Dunne said: "This firefighter has 15 years of service behind him and none of our members would be involved in making hoax calls. He is very upset by the accusations and attended the police station voluntarily. Our understanding is that the police are satisfied and are not taking it any further. So we don't know why they've seen fit to keep him suspended."In a BBC News article, Merseyside Fire Authority chair Tony Newman announced he was ready to call in national FBU negotiators. This represents a great victory for the firefighters, as the Authority have been very reluctant to negotiate. However, Merseyside FBU have not broadened the dispute, and they now seem to have accepted that the cuts will come in some form. Yesterday's alternative cuts proposal showed they are hoping for a negotiated settlement which does not affect front line fire rescue.
The £3.5 million cuts demanded by the government are a drop in the ocean compared to the amount currently being spent on oil wars. All trade unionists and anti-capitalists on Merseyside have to step up to the plate and start putting all their theories into practice. We must recognise that it is the profit system that has demanded these cuts, and the profit system which has taken the Territorial Army off to the Middle East to fight for control of oil. With the big Manchester protest at the Labour Party conference coming up in ten days, we must use that media spotlight to highlight the link between wars abroad and cuts at home.
Another good opportunity to make our voices heard will come this Friday 15th September, when a national rally organised by the FBU will take place in Liverpool city centre. The cuts in Merseyside are a taste of things to come nationwide, so every working class person in the country should support the Merseyside firefighters.