On Tuesday 16th September, the FBU’s ‘Ring of Fire’ tour came to Leeds. The tour’s aim was to highlight the savage cuts taking place to the fire service, and had been launched at the TUC congress in Liverpool last week.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
The tour was a huge success in engaging with members of the public, who came over to sign petitions in a fairly steady stream. People gasped as they passed the large banners highlighting the cuts that are being made to the fire service.
Whilst local Labour MP Linda Riordan (Halifax) and PPC Richard Burgon (Leeds East) offered their full support in opposing the cuts, Ben Mayor, speaking on behalf of Leeds Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, castigated their colleagues on the local Labour-controlled Fire Authority who have carried out cuts here in West Yorkshire.
Moreover, Ben explained, the councillors on the fire authority have passed over the strikebreaking tactics of the Chief Fire Officer where retained firefighters who broke the strike received 13 hours pay for 2 hours work amongst other measures. Only one of them responded to a letter from TUSC about these attacks, and that was only to say they were looking into it a few months ago with no response since.
The rally concluded with a rousing speech by West Yorkshire FBU Brigade Secretary, Dave Williams who summed up the feelings of many there wanting to see an end to austerity, particularly pointing to the FBU’s calls to nationalise the banks and the energy companies.