What would Clement do?

A Labour blog that witters on about Clement Attlee. Hurrah for The Major!

Archive for the tag “FBU”

THIS IS NOT AN ACT OF GOD

We went to the fabulous wedding of our friends Lisa and David over the weekend, set in Bedwellty, South Wales it was a truly joyous occasion, as watching two people you know should be together publicly declare their love should be. The welcome for the English contingent was warm and generous, the church service not only solemn, but great fun. The only spot of bother would predictably be the weather.

The rain simply would not let up over the valleys – at times it was a struggle to see a landmark as close and as large as The Chartist Bridge. We were all incredibly lucky of course – all we had to put up with was a little dampness and wind, rather than flooded homes and workplaces, so there will be no grousing from me. Travelling back along the M4 on Sunday, you could see a little of the damage done – burst river banks and flooded pastures mainly. The news told the rest, or nearly all of it…

…The government, and the media have, as usual praised the unstinting efforts of local councils and the emergency services in the struggle to save life and property. Much has been made of the improvements in emergency planning made over the past few years, and rightly so, given the parsimony of the Coalitions’ austerity spending plans. Yet with floods, the main emergency workers who bust a gut are the Fire Service – the ones with hoses, pumps, ladders etc. Yes, that means members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

The cuts have hit Firefighters across the UK, and the South West has been no exception to this. So far, everything has worked pretty well, mainly thanks to teamwork and professionalism, yet post-2010 cut mean that Firefighters at all levels have serious concerns as to whether in the future they won’t be overstretched. The only reason that people in the South West have been able to rely on the Fire service because extra engines and Firefighters have been available from other regions. Should there be a wider flooding crisis in these other regions, this will not be the case. As the Association of Chief Fire Officers has already warned, future cuts, leading to the potential loss of 4,000 Firefighters, sixty stations and around 150 engines make such sharing of force much more difficult, especially if the UK were to have to deal with two regional crises at the same time.

Today Matt Wrack, the FBU leader has written to David Cameron, once again highlighting the Firefighters concerns. I doubt that Ham-Face will take any notice. After all, he leads a party that once counted  Brian Coleman as a leading member in London. You remember Brian – he said that “we need to break the FBU, frankly…” , as if this would make up for cutting numbers of staff and engines in London.

I am sure that the cabinet are all distressed about the floods – after all no one could be more distraught at having to dehumidify their holiday homes. No doubt these blustering puppets will heap praise upon the Fire Service until the waters subside, then get back to cutting numbers and buggering up their pensions. Of course, once the FBU start to campain over this in earnest, they will be branded extremists and wreckers by this extremist, wrecking coalition.   

 

Boris’ Best Mates – Number One: BRIAN COLEMAN

 Londoners will be pretty familiar (and pretty fed-up) with Brian Coleman, the Barnet Councillor, ex- Mayor and London Assembly Member for Barnet & Camden, at least until next week. We are used to his habitual rudeness to members of the public, and his total disregard for anyone who disagrees with him. His casual insults are legend.

Now we all know that in politics, as in life, choosing your friends is an important indicator of your character, perhaps as important as your actions. In all honesty we in Labour have our reservations as to some of Ken’s allies, and most of us are pretty open about this, so maybe we should just take a peek at one of Mr Johnson’s closest political allies…

Mr Johnson put Mr Coleman in charge of the London Fire Brigade and Emergency Planning, taking Mr Coleman’s salary to over £120,000 per year, meaning he is one of the five top payed councillors in Britain. Yesterday he gave us an insight into why Johnson so values his services, when his attitude towards the Firefighters he bosses about, and their elected representatives was reported in an interview to be thus:

Most of the Union officials, if they had half a brain cell, they’d be dangerous… We have to break the FBU frankly… 

He also confirmed that there would “inevitably” be job losses, confirming that 27 fire engines, that is 16% of London’s total, could be cut. This is in direct contradiction to  Mr Johnson’s claims.

Let us take a moment to inspect this man’s record, after all, should Boris Johnson win on May 3rd, he will be a key player in the running of London:

Between April 2006 and March 2007, Coleman spent £10,000 on taxi fares. The average taxi spend of all GLA members for this period was £845. Granted, during this time, Brian was banned from driving for speeding, but has he never heard of the Oystercard?

In 2009, in the wake of the national expenses scandal, he was the only Assembly Member to refuse to voluntarily publish his expenses:

I won’t do it voluntarily. Its none of the publics business

Despite a salary of £128,000, Mr Coleman lives in a subsidised Housing Association flat, with a monthly rent of just £546. His landlord is the  Finchley Methodist Church charity. Lucky him. Recently, a single mother, faced with an increase on her rent of £150, taking her monthly rent to £1,100 contacted Mr Coleman see if he could in any way help. His answer, which speaks volumes, was thus:

…live in the real world…

Like many in the Boris camp, he really hates criticism, and just this week it was reported in The Barnet Times that he had called Friern Barnet resident & Psychiatric Nurse Paul Merchant a “twat”, then urged this voter to “clear off out” of a packed public meeting at Hendon Town Hall.

This is the third such incident in the past twelve months alone.

On May 3rd, this man is standing once again as GLA Member of Barnet and Camden. His Labour opponent, ex-local MP Andrew Dismore needs only a 5.5% swing to oust him. Time to eject this pompous, arrogant man from the Assembly chamber I think.

If, like me, you would also like to see this odious creep banished from City Hall, then best you vote for Ken Livingstone as well.

Remember,Remember…

So, the press are full of stories of “selfish” Firefighters, and their wanton proposed action on November the fifth. A few points need to be raised against the unthinking right wingers howling and spouting cant…

The London Fire Brigade management arbitrarily set a date of 26th November for new working contracts to be signed by all Firefighters, initially with no room for further consultation. Under section 188 of the 1992 Employment Act, if they do not sign, they loose their jobs, not because we don’t need them, but because they oppose the contracts.

The main bone of contention is not money, but shift patterns. With around 50% of London Firefighters living outside of London, and the reality that you can be called out right up until the very last second of your shift, this is not a small point. Think about it, do you work in a job where you are on call for 13 hours, and at 12 hours 59 minutes suddenly find yourself doing another two hours (dangerous) work with no notice? the 48 hour maximum is often more of a minimum, so all talk of “long weekends” is in reality hot air.

The use of section 188 by management is seen by most Firefighters as an attempt by LFB to bully them, and their Union, and for many is the central point, rather than even the disputed shift patterns, that up until now have been under discussion for five years, so the Union have been negotiating with management up until the bosses decided (no doubt with Boris Johnson’s backing) to provoke a confrontation.

In areas such as South Yorkshire, where 12hr/12hr shift patterns are currently working, this has been achieved by negotiation with the FBU, rather than Reagan-style confrontation, as practiced by London Fire Brigade.

Finally, an emotional point – after November 5th comes Remembrance Sunday. at the Cenotaph, and around Britain, alongside service comrades past and present we will see Firefighters march past a pay tribute to the heroism shown during the Blitz, at Coventry, Silvertown Docks, Bristol etc. We will remember those who went to rescue those caught in the 7/7 attacks, Bradford stadium fire, even the Brighton Bombing. Emergency Service cover is not a “luxury”, nor are those we ask to put their own lives in danger for us especially privileged- they are men and women who potentially sacrifice everything for us, every working day.

Perhaps those that bray loudly at the FBU are still hankering for another Miners strike – perhaps their homes are fireproof. I wonder who they will call if this turns out not to be the case? Boris with a bucket???

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