Solidarity with Firefighters’ strikes
12pm – 2pm and 10.59pm – 11.59pm
Daily: Saturday 9 – Saturday 16 August 2014
Support FBU pickets at firestations across Sussex
Defend Firefighters against “No Job, No Pension”
Watch this short FBU film summarising the issues that have led firefighters to take strike action over the last eleven months against Coalition attacks on firefighters’ pensions and the reckless cuts to the Fire & Rescue Service – happening nationwide, not just in Sussex. Please stand together with firefighters as they take action again this week.
Over the last fortnight in Sussex we have seen storms, flash floods, travel chaos, many fires including the devastating blaze on Eastbourne Pier, and the tail-end of hurricane Bertha. Meanwhile, in its drive to force through an increase to firefighters’ retirement age from 55 to 60, the Coalition plans to reduce a key firefighter fitness standard from 42 to 35 VO2. Such a drop in fitness of nearly 20% will put everyone’s lives at risk in the emergency situations when we most rely on our rescue services. Do we want to test whether crews of 60 year old firefighters could have coped with the last fortnight in Sussex?
Although public sympathy for firefighters undoubtedly caused Cameron to appoint his third Fire Minister in four years, Tory MP Penny Morduant has carried on as before by cancelling talks with the FBU rather than continuing a constructive dialogue to avert strikes this week. On a recent visit to Sussex the new Fire Minister’s priority was to view street art rather than meet firefighters just across the road at Brighton’s Preston Circus firestation.
It is only natural for some spirits to drop after 11 months in dispute with this callous Coalition. So please show firefighters your support by standing with them on FBU picket lines at local firestations, sending solidarity messages and posting support on social media. Firefighters are there for all of us, providing fire and rescue services in the most dangerous of conditions, whenever needed. This is routine for firefighters, who are deeply committed to their local communities and do not take strike action lightly: “People do not become firefighters to become rich…(but) to serve the public, to put other people first, to risk their lives to save others” Simon Herbert, Chair, East Sussex FBU.
This week, please make an effort to show firefighters your appreciation and support. If you cannot attend either the lunchtime or late night pickets at local firestations, please ensure that you have supported the new FBU campaign Justice for our Firefighters by signing the petition calling on East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service to pay the compensation due to the families of Brighton firefighters Brian Wembridge and Geoff Wicker, who were killed at Marlie Farm in 2006. It is nothing short of a scandal that East Sussex Fire Authority members allow ESFRS management to continue to contest this case despite damning court judgements.
Remember, an attack on workers’ pensions is always the first step of a government preparing to sell-off a public asset, as private companies do not want the open-ended liability of paying staff pensions. Cutting a service to the bone is the second step – in an attempt to persuade people that the service could be better run privately. We are seeing continued huge cuts to Fire Services around Sussex and across the country. The FBU estimates that 6,000 firefighter posts have been lost in the UK since 2007 which jeopardise the Fire Service’s ability to deal with floods and all major incidents.
Please support firefighters’ picket lines during these eight days of strikes between Saturday 9 and 16 August 2014. Please sign the petitions to stop the cuts to the UK’s Fire Services and to stop the attacks on firefighters’ pensions. The Fire Service is facing huge cuts under the Coalition. We must stand together with firefighters now to defend our Fire Service.
Fight prejudice and hatred.
At Brighton Pride on Saturday 2 August 2014 and everyday.
Brighton & Hove LRC meeting
7.30pm, Tuesday 29 July 2014
The Mesmerist, 1-3 Prince Albert Street, Brighton BN1 1HE
Led by local LGBT activist, socialist and NUT member Simeon Elliott, consider whether the civil rights and health priorities of LGBT people in Brighton & Hove continue to be represented at LGBT Pride, or if there is a conflict between business, alcohol consumption and health & wellbeing outcomes for people attending Pride. Does Pride represent the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered citizens equally, or has the relative prosperity of some LGBT people resulted in business turning Pride into a commodity it sells for profit? If so, how can Pride re-focus its priorities on the promotion of social justice and civil rights for all?
Brighton & Hove LRC meets every other month for a friendly discussion around a table, normally in a pub room. This will be our first meeting in the ground floor meeting room of The Mesmerist, which is very close to Brighton Town Hall, being just five minutes walk further down Prince Albert Street from the Friends’ Meeting House. All welcome at these friendly and informal meetings.
B&H LRC’s remaining meetings in 2014 will be on Tuesday 7 October and Tuesday 2 December. More news of those meetings will be available soon via our events listings.
Support Public Sector Workers’ Strikes
Thursday 10 July 2014
Sussex LRC will be actively supporting FBU, GMB, NUT, PCS, UNISON, and Unite when the six unions strike on Thursday 10 July 2014.
Five years of pay freezes and below inflation pay caps have had a hugely damaging impact on the living standards of all public sector workers. If pay had kept pace with inflation, average civil service pay would be £2,300 higher than it is now, and TUC analysis shows that the average public sector worker is £2,245 worse off in real terms since the Coalition took office. In local government, where almost two thirds of the workforce are paid below £21,000 a year and around half a million workers are paid less than the Living Wage, workers will have experienced a real terms pay cut of 18% by the end of 2014.
Office of National Statistics figures suggest that over 400,000 jobs have gone from local government since the Coalition came to power. This scale of job losses has been hidden as recruitment freezes and the deletion of vacant posts need to be added to known compulsory and voluntary redundancies. With increasing workloads for those left behind it is no surprise that 86% of respondents to a UNISON survey of local government members reported that their stress levels had increased: 84% said that stress at work was affecting their job performance and 83% reported that stress was also affecting their personal life.
Meanwhile, Coalition ministers talk of maintaining these real terms cuts until 2018, are planning to raise the retirement age to 60 for frontline firefighters, and to 68 for teachers who are also averaging 60 hour working weeks. Clearly this is a strike worthy of everyone’s strongest possible support, so please show solidarity standing with local pickets Thursday morning, joining local marches and attending strike rallies. To protect our public services we must stand together with public sector workers and unite with them in breaking out of a spiral of ever-declining pay and morale.
In the face of the Coalition’s refusal to enter into any meaningful talks, public sector workers have been left with no option but to strike – and we need to stand with their pickets to ensure that the impact of this action is maximised. Moreover, this action is part of a political fight for the future direction of Britain and its economy, and the political impact of this action is vital. Thursday is an opportunity for Labour politicians to show that they are on the side of the working class. This is particularly welcome from those normally a long way from the left of the Party.
If you are unable to get out, support can also be given via social media, such as twitter and Facebook, using the #J10 and #WeAllNeedAPayRise hashtags. UNISON has social media resources for the strike and Unite and PCS both have internet pages with links to the joint union petition. PCS has much campaign information while Unite provides handy tools for emailing councillors to support the pay claim and a summary twitter feed showing all #J10 tweets.
We also suggest that you listen to Radio Sussex as it is likely to cover the strikes and there may be opportunities to call in to support strikers.
We list below the local pickets, marches and rallies we know of so far. You can also review a great UNISON South East action map.
6.30am: UNISON picket at Aquila House
7am: UNISON picket at the Town Hall
7.30am – 9.30/10am: UNISON & GMB picket at Ocean House, 87-89 London Road, St Leonards-on-Sea TN37 6LW.
10am: FBU picket at Bohemia Firestation. NB: FBU strike continues until 7pm so expect picket to continue until then.
11am: GMB has announced a rally at Harold Place, Hastings TN34 1JA
11am: NUT has asked members to assemble at 11am outside Debenhams in the town centre for a march and rally.
BRIGHTON & HOVE PICKETS
4.30am: GMB will begin picketing by the big wheel on the beach.
5am: GMB will begin picketing at the Cityclean Depot in Hollingdean Road.
6am – 8am: UNISON will be leafleting the public at Brighton railway station.
6am: PCS will begin picketing the JobCentre and Magistrates Court in Edward Street, Brighton.
7am: PCS will be picketing HMRC’s offices in Upper North Street, Brighton and at the Hove JobCentre.
7am: GMB will be picketing at The Royal Pavilion.
7am: UNISON will be picketing at both Brighton and Hove Town Halls and at King’s House, Hove.
9am: NUT will be picketing at BHASVIC.
10am to 7pm: FBU will be picketing at both Preston Circus and Hove Firestations.
BRIGHTON & HOVE MARCHES & RALLY
Please reply ASAP if you are coming and can help carry the Sussex LRC banner. It needs 2 people to carry it and another 2 to act as reliefs, so we need a minimum of 4 volunteers. At least one of our normal banner carriers will be picketing in London and another is recovering from illness, so please step forward to assist on Thursday.
Two marches are assembling from 10am outside the Cityclean depot in Hollingdean Road, Hollingdean, Brighton and also outside Hove Town Hall, at Norton Road/Church Road, Hove.
The marches are expected to move-off at 10.30am and will be heading for a rally at midday to be held on The Level, opposite the Open Market at Union Road, Brighton. The marches will meet at Victoria Gardens around 11.30am before combining to proceed to The Level.
OTHER SUSSEX PICKETS
East Sussex and West Sussex UNISON are reporting that there will be pickets at the various Councils offices and facilities shown below. Many of these are likely to be joined by GMB members and other strikers. Please show solidarity with your local pickets.
Lewes – UNISON from 5.45am to 9.30am at the Recycling Depot, from 7.30am to 10am at County Hall and from 7.30am to 10.15am at Southover House.
Eastbourne – UNISON from 7.30am to 10am at St Mary’s Hall and St Mark’s Hall
Bognor – UNISON from 7am at Durban House
Crawley – UNISON from 7am at Crawley Library
Chichester – UNISON from 7am at County Hall and from 7am to 10.30am at East Pallant House
Haywards Heath – UNISON from 7am to 10am at Oaklands Road
Horsham – UNISON from 7am at County Hall North
Littlehampton – UNISON from 7am to 11am at the Civic Centre
Newhaven – UNISON from 5.45am to 10.15am at the Newhaven Depot
Shoreham – UNISON from 7am at Glebelands Day Centre
Worthing – UNISON from 7am at Centenary House
Tories want to make striking in public services even tougher. Your support on Thursday can demonstrate to all politicians how wrong this would be – as was concluded in a recent online debate when 86% of people agreed that workers in essential services should be allowed to strike. Like Owen Jones we say celebrate the strikers this week – they are fighting for us all and will provide an inspiration to others.
So see you on Thursday! And hopefully again during the further eight days of strikes by the FBU from Monday 14 to Monday 21 July as FBU members continue their industrial action against the Coalition’s attacks on firefighters’ pensions and reckless cuts to our Fire Services.
Solidarity with Firefighters’ strikes
10am – 5pm Saturday 21 June2014
Support FBU pickets at firestations across Sussex
Defend Firefighters against “No Job, No Pension”
“It seems that central government doesn’t give a damn about the safety of firefighters. They are willing to risk the lives and safety of firefighters and the public simply to drive through their attacks on our pensions… It’s time for the government to stop putting politics ahead of public safety and work with firefighters to create a pension scheme that reflects the uniquely demanding role that we undertake.” Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary
This week another academic study found that the Coalition’s push to lower firefighter’s fitness standards will put people’s lives at risk in the emergency situations when we most rely on our rescue services. The government’s own research had previously shown that 66% of firefighters aged 55 and above would be unlikely to meet the currently required fitness standard of 42 VO2. In its drive to force through an increase in the retirement age for firefighters from 55 to 60, the Coalition proposes a reduced fitness standard of 35 VO2 – put simply, a drop in fitness of nearly 20%.
The Coalition’s stated aim is to reduce the bill for firefighters’ pensions, yet firefighters already paid more for their pensions than any other part of the public sector before 2010, and have seen contributions increase dramatically under the Coalition. Such high contributions seem to be an attempt to dissuade firefighters from joining their own pension scheme. In a further draconian move, under the Coalition’s current proposals, firefighters who are forced to retire before the age of 60 as a result of ageing will have half of their pension taken away. Alternatively, firefighters may be sacked for failing fitness tests.
Nothing Fire Minister Brandon Lewis has done so far has appeared sincere except his support for privatisation of the Fire Service. An attack on workers’ pensions is always the first move when the government prepares to sell-off a public asset, as private companies do not want the open-ended liability of paying staff pensions. Cutting a service to the bone is the second step – in an attempt to persuade people that the service could be better run privately. We are seeing continued huge cuts to Fire Services around Sussex and across the country. The FBU estimates that 6,000 firefighter posts have been lost in the UK since 2007 which jeopardise the Fire Service’s ability to deal with floods and all major incidents. Such devastating and reckless cuts are also why firefighters are striking.
Firefighters are deeply committed to their local communities and do not take strike action lightly: “People do not become firefighters to become rich…(but) to serve the public, to put other people first, to risk their lives to save others” Simon Herbert, Chair, East Sussex FBU. However, as this firefighter explains, they are now very angry at their treatment by the government.
Please support firefighters’ picket lines when they strike again on Saturday 21 June 2014. Using these handy tools from the FBU, please write to your MP to object to these changes and also sign the petitions to stop the cuts to the UK’s Fire Services and to stop the attacks on firefighters’ pensions. The Fire Service is facing huge cuts under the Coalition and Tory Fire Minister Brandon Lewis is pushing a privatisation agenda. We must stand together with firefighters now to defend our Fire Service.
7pm – 9pm, Wednesday 18 June 2014
Refreshments available from 6.30pm
The Friends’ Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton BN1 1AF
Download our poster/leaflet for this meeting:
The Coalition is busy selling-off public assets and bringing in more and more private contractors to run NHS services in every local area. Meanwhile, local councils are putting more contracts out to private tender and all public sector workers have suffered pay freezes since the Coalition took office in 2010. The Coalition’s divisive 2014 NHS pay offer shows complete contempt for NHS staff while 90% of local government workers were offered only a derisory 1% pay increase for 2014. Given all of this, it’s no wonder that the morale of workers in the public sector and the NHS has plummeted.
It’s time for British people to join with public sector workers to fight cuts and privatisation, to save our NHS and to speak up for all public services. Say no to further cuts, outsourcing and privatisation of our public services and NHS. Labour must pledge not just to repeal the Coalition’s Health & Social Care Act but to remove the burden of PFI from our public services, to adequately fund public services, bring services back inhouse – where they can be run more efficiently, and abandon public sector pay caps.
Discuss why all public sector workers are worth a decent pay rise, learn about an alternative vision for our NHS, hear how we must protect public services like housing, and keep profit out of child protection with leading members of UNISON, the UK’s biggest public service union, plus Ian Lawrence who, as General Secretary of NAPO, is leading probation workers in their fight to defend the Probation Service against the Coalition’s reckless privatisation plans. Speakers include Heather Wakefield – UNISON Head of Local Government, Police and Justice, Gordon McKay of UNISON Scotland Health, UNISON NEC member Jon Rogers (speaking in a personal capacity – Jon is a local government worker and Lambeth UNISON activist), and local housing worker and Havering UNISON activist MarshaJane Thompson.
Come along on Wednesday 18 June to support public sector workers and defend our public services. Because people are more important than profits.
Lobby East Sussex Fire Authority meeting
10am, Thursday 5 June 2014
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service HQ
On Thursday 5 June, members of East Sussex Fire Authority will decide whether to accept or reject a package of £7.1m cuts proposed by the Chief Fire Officer. These are massive cuts to frontline fire services which involve cutting fire engines, closing fire stations like Battle and cutting numbers of frontline firefighters across East Sussex. The Chief Fire Officer has admitted that these cuts will result in more lives being lost. We say even one life is one too many.
Like Council meetings, Fire Authority meetings are public, so you can go along, ask questions and make your views clear to members of East Sussex Fire Authority. This is important because only 655 people across East Sussex responded to the Authority’s much-criticised consultation - a consultation that almost no one knew about and few people could understand. Procedures for Fire Authority meetings and a link to the papers for this Thursday’s meeting are publicly available.
Thursday’s Fire Authority meeting will start at 10.30am. East Sussex FBU has asked supporters to assemble outside at 10am so that Fire Authority members going in are aware of the opposition to these proposed cuts. You can also email Fire Authority members to let them know you oppose the cuts and expect them to vote against any cuts.
Petitions will be presented to the Fire Authority from Save Our Fire Service and Stop the Cuts to East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service. Please ensure that you and everyone you know has signed these petitions.
Savings cannot be made by putting lives at risk. Fire Authority members and the Chief Fire Officer must put public safety before cuts to our frontline emergency services. Join us, the FBU and other campaigners in taking this message to the Fire Authority on Thursday 5 June. Take your chance to influence this crucial decision on the future of our Fire Service. Our Fire Service has already been cut over the last decade, so be prepared to defend what’s left.