Around a hundred firefighters and their supporters rallied in Millenium Square, Leeds on Wednesday 25th September against plans to increase the retirement age of firefighters to 60. This was part of a national four-hour ‘warning’ strike by the FBU against proposals that would also see firefighters paying increased pension contributions whilst recieving a smaller amount in retirement.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
Many firefighters were also angry about the cuts and closures programme which the Labour dominated fire authority forced through last year. Several of the firefighters on strike were from stations that are due to be merged with accompanying reductions in staffing, whilst other stations have had fire appliances removed from site. Firefighters from stations that aren’t due for closure explained to me how they were increasingly being asked to cover more incidents.
Despite the protest being called at short notice, there was a large delegation from the PCS civil servants union and other local trade unionists and activists attending the rally to show their support. As teachers are due to strike in Yorkshire and several other regions next week, and postal workers are due to ballot for strike action, the need for co-ordinated action by unions, and ultimately a general strike, against austerity has never been clearer.