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TIME TO FIGHT ON PENSIONS & CUTS

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he national ballot over pensions continues until the end of this month. Weve all got to do everything we can to build support for strikes. That means voting YES ourselves and calling on our colleagues to vote YES too. We can do this in watch and union meetings, over the mess table, during work routines and on the job. We can organise voting YES together meetings, by asking our members to bring the ballot papers into work and filling them in together. This will build collective accountability, confidence and strength. This strike ballot has been a long time coming. Weve had two years of talks, which the government has used to stall our momentum and impose a Normal Pension Age (NPA) of 60 in parliament. Every argument our union leaders put has been ignoreddespite the fact that the governments own evidence is on our side. Their own review shows that a NPA of 60 will condemn members to mass sackings under capabilitywithout a pension. Thats why our union is right to call this an outrageous and unacceptable attack. Why should we face the sack for the crime of getting older! The tragic death of Manchester firefighter Stephen Hunt is a sobering reminder of the sacrifices firefighters make to keep our communities safe.

lost thousands of jobs. But the attacks we face are just a part of the wider offensive by this government against workers. The NHS, education and welfare are all under serious and sustained attack. Royal Mail is being readied for privatisation. Meanwhile the cabinet is stuffed with millionaires who awarded themselves tax cuts, bankers are still pocketing massive bonuses and MPs could be getting an 11 percent rise whilst demanding the rest of us accept austerity. Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Moribund has committed a future Labour

government to maintaining Con-Dem spending cuts and is distancing himself from the trade unions. We cant just wait for Labour so we need to fight back now. If we fight then we wont be alone. In the autumn hundreds of thousands of teachers will be taking regional and national strike action over pay. Postal workers are now set to ballot against privatisation and attacks on their conditions. We need to vote yes, develop a programme of action that can really take on the government and link our fights with all those workers who are fighting back.

London Fire Cuts

Demand

We have every right to demand decent pay, job security and pension security for when we get older. If the government wont do thisthen it is absolutely right that we fight and fight hard. At the same time as voting YES, we need to develop a strategy that can win this dispute. We will need sustained strike action to win. We need more than just one day strikes which give the employers and the government time to recover and re-group. The government is intent on making workers pay for the economic crises caused by the bankers and their friends in Westminster. They want us to pay with our pay, cuts to services and pensions. Brigades throughout the country are facing swingeing cuts. When we fight back we can get results. Just look at London (see box). Weve had a three year pay freeze and

he Tories attempts to wreck the fire service continue with London Mayor Boris Johnson overruling his own London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and ordering 35 million of cuts. The cuts will lead to 10 stations closures in the capital, 14 engines removed, 552 frontline jobs slashed and the removal of two rescue units. Johnson ignored the opinions of 94 percent of Londoners who took part in the public consultation and his cuts will put some 4 million Londoners at risk. The FBU has said it is exploring the potential for a judicial review. Rightly the union is calling for supporters to go all out to stop the cuts. Matt Wrack and others have raised the idea of occupations of the threatened fire stations. Its brilliant if the trade union movement and local communities are prepared to act to stop the cuts and closures. But wouldnt any campaign against Johnson be even stronger if firefighters were moving to take industrial action? The FBUs campaign in London has already had results. Clapham and New Cross fire stations have been saved and the politicians on the fire authority have been forced to vote to oppose the cuts. If the union upped the ante then more could be achieved.

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