The Tories say there is a public emergency which must be conquered whatever the cost. Apparently our public services are raging out of control and must be extinguished forthright!
Slash and burn is the solution, our would-be rescuers scream. Hence a key task for the Tories has been to construct a pyre for Leicestershire’s Fire Service.
But lest the public be mindful of the government’s incendiary ways, the Tories assure us that their brave friends are ready to step up to the mark. Bank balances bolstered by years of corporate welfare, their super-rich business friends don’t mind rescuing us… as long, that is, as their profits keep flowing.
Last December the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned how we face the “biggest cuts” in the Leicestershire Fire Service’s history. Part of these recent cuts have involved introducing an “untested crewing system,” which the FBU believe is unsustainable.
Cost-cutting had already halved the number of firefighters at fire stations with one fire engine, from 28 to 14. With the FBU highlighting that proposals of “further devastating cuts”, would lead to a further reduction of 104 operational firefighter posts over the next 5 years.
“We are rapidly approaching a situation,” the FBU warned, “where the public will be subjected to a ‘postcode lottery’, in terms of the speed and level of response that they would receive for an emergency incident in their area.”
Nevertheless in April this year the Leicestershire Combined Fire Authority voted to implement a raft of murderous cuts, which as the FBU noted, contributed to “a 30 per cent drop in total staff levels over recent months” (April 8, Leicester Mercury).
With more drastic cuts in the pipeline, in June, the tag-teaming Tory and Tory-lite musclemen, Nick ‘The Flame’ Rushton and Sir Peter ‘The Axe’ Soulsby, became the new leaders of the Combined Fire Authority (June 5, Mercury).
Both first-class fighters can boast plenty of experience in the political ring, having spent years wrestling opponents into submission. And together they were considered to be the ultimate front-men capable of providing a killer KO to the FBU.
To better enable ‘The Axe’ to swing his tool with full fury against public services, the unopposed duo immediately moved to “streamline” the Authorities decision making process. Soulsby calling the Authority “cumbersome,” and simply too democratic an arena for him to deliver his killer moves.
The Mercury (September 17) revealed the true intent of our dastardly foe, in Rushton and Soulsby, with their announcement of plans “to close two fire stations” including Leicester’s Central fire station, on Lancaster Road, and “possibly axe 88 jobs”. “Lives will definitely be lost because of these proposals,” explained the FBU.
Yet unlike Rushton and Soulsby, the FBU believe that investment in public services, not cuts is the answer. This is why they are proud to have been one of the first unions to back Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the Labour party.
The general secretary of the FBU is clear that his union believes “the acquisition of wealth for the few” should not be “given priority over fairness and equality for society overall.”
Hence we can be sure that the FBU will endeavour to team-up with other unions to mobilise all workers to unite and strike together against the Tories ongoing bonfire of public services.
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury on 18th September.