Yorkshire Strikers Update

October 20, 2009

The South Yorkshire Firefighters strike continues today.

Firefighters walked out at 6pm on Monday for 24 hours as part of a dispute that erupted following proposals to implement a 12-hour shift pattern, instead of the current pattern of nine-hour days and 15-hour nights. When firefighters objected 744 people were told that they would be sacked and that they would have to reapply for their jobs in the New Year. This deadline was extended to March, but the threat still holds.

Five South Yorkshire MPs have called for immediate moves to resume talks withdraw dismissal notices and for the union to call off its strike action.

Ian Murray, FBU regional secretary said: “The MPs don’t let either side in this dispute off lightly, so this is not the MPs intervening on behalf of one side or the other. This is a welcome intervention by MPs who are rightly concerned.

“South Yorkshire fire crews would be happy to enter talks without the fire authority demanding we agree the outcome before they start. If the threat of mass sackings is lifted then the strike action will be halted.

“The chief officer keeps claiming the dismissals are some sort of technical move of little importance or impact. If that is so then that is even more reason to drop the threat and we can call off the strike.

“It’s now down to the fire authority if it wants to enter genuine negotiations to reach an agreement. The ball is now on their side of the court and we hope to know their view of this by the end of the day.”

If an agreement is not met then firefighters will be striking again this Friday (October 23rd).

Meanwhile in Leeds the bin strike continues. The latest offer from Leeds Council is that they won’t cut wages if bin workers take on a higher workload! Strikers say that they’re prepared to ‘picket till Christmas if we have to’, but things are hard…

“We’re just living day by day off the strike fund, which is about a quarter of our wages,” said driver Terry Hunter, 40, based at the depot on Knowsthorpe Way. “It’s been hard for everyone really and we’ve had to cut back on absolutely everything.

“We’d go back out on the streets tomorrow with the right offer. But morale on the picket lines is stronger than ever.”

“I think the council thought we’d give up and go back after a couple of days. But we’ve proved them wrong. We’re now in our sixth week, which I think makes ours the longest strike in Leeds since Christmas 1979.”

He’s not the only person to mention the 70s; with postal workers set to stage a 24hr walk-out on Thursday (which means that Yorkshire may see postal workers, bin workers and firefighters all on strike this Friday) the media are predicting another ‘Winter of Discontent’, BUT WE HAVE EVERY REASON TO BE F***ING DISCONTENT!

Ordinary working people across the country have been screwed by banks, bosses, corporations and politicians for far too long, but unless we are prepared to finally stand up for ourselves we deserve everything we get.

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