I'm sure you don't believe everything you read in the papers, but some of the more lurid stories in the press today really take the biscuit. Articles such as this in the Sun: "Flaming cheek of fire strike boss", aimed against FBU general secretary Matt Wrack. This is not journalism, this is class warfare with the gloves off. And it's crap, of course.
The FBU have never demanded £10k in return for shift changes. And the strikes were not called over the substantive issue in their dispute with the London Fire Brigade - shift patterns - but against the sacking threat. From 26 November, all of London's 5,600 firemen and women could be sacked. We would have no fire service to speak of in London.
Where does the Sun get stories such as this? Who feeds them this crap? Who do you think?
The decision to take on the firefighters is a political one - the government wants to make an example of one of the strongest, best organised groups of workers, and batter them into submission. After that, what group of workers will have the courage to stand up to the government's cuts and job losses?
The man who is fronting this attack for the government is one of the most inept politicians ever - Brian Coleman. But he is also one of the thickest skinned and most arrogant men alive - he can take quite a lot of working class ire, he can take a lot of anyone's ire. So long as there is a London taxi for him to hop into and speed him to his next dinner engagement, and so long as there is an expense account to pay for it, Coleman will do anything to London's public services and anything to London's public servants that the government asks him to. I was going to call him a class warrior, but I think he is actually just the biggest, most useful idiot in Britain.
A leaflet outlining the main issues in the fire dispute, published by London region FBU, is available here. I urge Barnet residents to read it, and not to believe what they read in the Sun or the Evening Standard or Metro for that matter. As if you would.