Thursday, 4 November 2010

The FBU blinks

What do you think? I reckon Brian Coleman has cracked open a bottle of champagne this evening. Brian Coleman probably cracks open a bottle of champagne most evenings, but he's probably chosen a rare vintage this evening, perhaps something he's been saving up for a special occasion. The sort of bottle he might have got in a hamper, a special gift from someone like AssetCo.

I heard the news that the FBU has called off its 47-hour strike due to start tomorrow at 10am while I was in a meeting about the recent strike wave in France (!). A friend sent me a text. And I still don't know much more about it than that. I had a lonely journey home feeling dejected, then something to eat and now here I am.

I thought I'd record my initial feelings of deflation, because initial feelings can often be quite instructive. Why am I depressed about it? Because the FBU said they wouldn't negotiate with a gun to their heads, but now, it seems, they have agreed to do just that. Because I suspect the leadership lost their nerve, worried that the ordinary membership weren't up for it. I think they almost certainly were up for it, but will feel less like that in the weeks to come, now they have seen their leadership hesitating.

And what will change in the next few weeks? Will it be possible to ramp up the confidence of members and send the management cowering back into their shells? Well, if that isn't possible now, I only think it's going to be harder in the coming period. The union has blinked, as far as I can tell. Coleman and the London mayor and the Tories and London Fire Brigade will be cock-a-hoop tonight, and so will the weasels - they are only a handful of people, let's be clear - who were crewing the AssetCo engines. And so will John Shannon, AssetCo CEO, who will now make a profit on his contract with LFB. And so will all the egits who think that firefighters - and other public servants - shouldn't have the right to strike. And so will all the journalists who researched and wrote snide little smear stories about firefighters.

Right, perhaps these initial reactions are just a sign of my ultra-leftism (increasing with age and the frustrations that go with it). I'm going off to read up on the web now and see if I'm wrong.


Anonymous said...

The FBU blinked because all in all, the firefighters' strike on bonfire night gave rise to a case of "damn if you do and damn if you don't". But for the firefighters' goodwill on public safety, I wish they had stood their ground because it was an opportunity to scrutinise the government's PFI contract with AssetCo and future plans on privatisation of the fire service.


Anonymous said...

I forgot to thank you for supporting the London Firefighters and take the opportunity to do that now. If only the BBC journalists were as supportive.


Mrs Angry said...

I would have supported the strike anyway, but I think that by this action they will only build on the public sympathy that has grown over the last week or so, helped by the press coverage, which went from being idiotically anti to effectively pro, with the highlighting of Coleman's role. Let's see what happens with the negotiations, and no,it ain't over, so I don't think anyone will be cracking open any Assetco hampers just yet.

Anonymous said...

The idea that there may yet be some contents to be found in the Asset Co hamper is plainly ludicrous. Unless that's where Coleman keeps his conscience I suppose.

vickim57 said...

I did go away and talk to a few people who know more about it than I do; I'm still not sure what I think about whether it was a good idea to call off the strikes.

For the sake of balance (!) here's a link to the London region FBU letter to members explaining the decision:

The outcome of the Resolution Advisory Panel is due tomorrow (Monday 22 November). Let's see what it says... A lot of the firefighers have been docked pay in the interim for their work-to-rule, which was not suspended.