Home News Brutal cuts to fire and rescue services being rushed through during the pandemic, union says

Fire Brigades Union (FBU)

  • Plans include major cuts to fire engines and staffing levels
  • FBU says it amounts to a ‘betrayal’ of firefighters and the public

Firefighters have warned of a major threat to public safety as politicians and fire chiefs try to sneak through cuts to the fire and rescue services while firefighters respond to the coronavirus crisis.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) made the comments after a consultation on sweeping fire and rescue cuts was launched mid-pandemic.

The union has called out the Prime Minister and other government ministers for clapping key workers on a Thursday while turning a blind eye to brutal cuts to a frontline emergency service.

Firefighters have agreed to take on sweeping new duties to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, including moving dead bodies, driving ambulances, and producing PPE, at the request of the government and the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).

But East Sussex’s Conservative-controlled fire authority has decided to

Full post (FBU)

‘Mickey Mouse’ scabs endanger safety at Heathrow.

Union News

Striking Heathrow firefighters are being undercut by a privatised strike-breaking outfit from Surrey County Council, the FBU has learned.

The union has slammed the “backhanded” method of strike-breaking, warning that replacement crews will not be sufficiently trained for airport or airplane fires. Unite members have currently suspended strike action after bosses made an improved pay offer.

The strike-breaking unit, South East Business Services, was set up by Surrey County Council over four years ago as a separate local authority trading company. Some firefighters initially signed up to the unit, which came with a £3,000 pay package, but pulled out upon learning that the unit was set up to provide strike cover.

Firefighters in Surrey are not generally trained to provide airport or airplane fire cover, which requires specialist skills. The FBU believes the strike breaking plan is badly thought out and could risk public safety at Heathrow Airport.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This is a backhanded act of strike-breaking from Surrey County Council. Airport fire crews are specialists and, quite frankly, this Micky Mouse outfit will not be trained to deal with airplane fires to anywhere near the standard of airport firefighters. They’re playing fast and loose with public safety at an airport, one of the most high-risk locations imaginable.

“Striking Heathrow workers have the full support of the FBU. It is grossly unfair that they be treated so poorly, while executives and shareholders line their own pockets. No one, and certainly no firefighters, should be helping bosses undermine this strike under any circumstance.”

Unite suspended the strikes planned for earlier this week to allow members to vote on a new pay offer, but strike dates are still on the table for later this month.

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Invitation to: Gig Economy Organising Roundtable (London, 24/01)

Open to all interested parties.


Gig Economy Organizing Round Table Thursday January 24th, 7-9pm, May Day Rooms, Fleet Street, London

Open to: Labour organisers and union members

The roundtable will function as a sort of focus group centred around the conceptualization of work and organiseable conditions. The aim will be to recognise new conditions in platform work organizing, like digital communication, precarious hours, and dispersed solidarity, better understand how organisers are responding to gig economy conditions, and envision future tactics.

The central question will ask how organisers conceptualise work, and how the shift to platform organising has changed their perception of what work is possible to organise. From this starting point, we will discuss the effect of digitization on solidarity, the use of physical pickets, and how legal channels fit into the gig economy.

The London IWW would like to invite organizers from the IWW and any union involved in gig economy work to attend. Ideally, attendees will be union organisers or members who have had some experience with gig economy campaigns. If they also work in the gig economy, even better!

It is free to attend and the London IWW has set aside funds to help defray the costs of IWW members from new or smaller branches.

Please let us know if you or someone from your branch/union is interested in attending.  If you would like the London IWW to assist with transport cost, please let us know in advance how much you would like to request.

For further information or to reserve your place, please contact Tom and Gaby at redandblack83@gmail.com & gabrielle.jeliazkov@gmail.com.

Protecting your data and kicking your head in.

We received a rather strange reply from Z Legge, Acting Business Manager to the Executive Director of the Long Term and High security Prisons Group, in response to our e-mail protesting the ill-treatment of our Fellow Worker Kevan Thakrar. We’d like to share it with you. Our original message is reproduced below.

Abuse and assault under Close Supervision
Prison Officer Corruption and Criminality
Kevan Aquitted!

Support F.W. Kevan Thakrar, e-mail POA and TUC
and another: admin@noms.gsi.gov.uk

Dear Richard Vince,

We object in the strongest possible terms to the systematic and persistent ill-treatment of our I.W.W. member Fellow Worker Kevan Thakrar. Whilst we appreciate you are not personally responsible for the miscarriage of justice that led to Kev’s incarceration, you have a duty to assure his physical and mental safety whilst in your care.It has been demonstrated empirically that the C.S.C. regime leads to severe psychological and physical damage. In addition Kev has been beaten, starved, sexually and racially abused, and had false allegations made against him by staff. Such treatment is classed as torture and forbidden by international law. You are deliberately exacerbating his Post traumatic stress disorder, contracted as a result of his abuse at HMP Frankland, which is a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act 2010. A psychiatric report states that he should have been returned to normal location after five years.

It is to F.W. Kev’s great credit that he has maintained his dignity and personal integrity under these circumstances. In contrast, your continued failure to address them amounts to dereliction of duty.

We demand that you stop moving F.W. Kev unnecessarily that you fit staff with body cameras so their conduct can be independently monitored that you grant his requests to see the governor and the diversity officer you take steps to return him to normal prison conditions that our Fellow Worker be free to make such external communications as will expedite his case and finally establish his innocence.

For the One Big Union

Felix Sabot

Template e-mail in support of FW Kevan Thakrar, for TUC affiliates.

Template for Wobblies

If you are a member of a T.U.C. affiliated Trade Union, please send this e-mail to the Prison Officers Association: general@poauk.org.uk,
and Trades Union Congress: info@tuc.org.uk
or write your own message.


Dear fellow Trade Union members.

I am writing to you as a fellow member of a TUC affiliated Trade Union [Insert Union].

The reason for my email is to bring to your attention my dismay at the treatment of Kevan Thakrar who is currently being held under the CSC conditions, which can be certainly described as an unnecessarily cruel, torture-like system intended to break people mentally and thus is illegal under international law. It would seem the treatment in this facility has included severe physical, sexual and mental abuse.

While I appreciate your union was not part of the series of events, marked by institutional corruption and incompetence that led to Kevan being wrongly convicted, the inhumane treatment he is undergoing is being perpetrated by your members. This is not appropriate behaviour by Trade Unionists. I appreciate that subsequent court rulings during his imprisonment going in Kevan’s favour may have stuck in the craw of members concerned, but locking him in a torture unit to punish him is an abuse of power, and the decision maker behind it should be ashamed.

I invite you to familiarise yourself with the details of this miscarriage of justice: http://justiceforkevan.org

I look forward in anticipation of a reply from an officer in due course.

Best wishes,

[Insert Name.]


Thanks to F.W. R for this