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Should strikes be limited?

12:26 UK time, Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Talks aimed at averting a strike by London firefighters on Bonfire Night have broken down a day after the Prime Minister David Cameron described the strike plans as "irresponsible". Should everyone have the right to strike?

The 47-hour action, starting on 5 November, is the third strike date since the firefighters' union announced industrial action over new contracts. London Fire Brigade says changes are needed due to tighter budgets. The FBU says that 79% of its members who voted support the action.

Elsewhere, France's National Assembly has voted to raise the pension age by two years after weeks of industrial action against the change. While the protest movement has lost steam, a new day of action has been declared for Thursday.

Is the right to strike essential for everyone? Should it be removed from emergency workers? Is it right for fuel suppliers to strike? Have you taken part in a strike? Is there an alternative to strike action?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 8

  • Comment number 1.

    Removing strike action for "emergency worker" is not right, if they can not strike then how do they stop governments from repeatidly eroding their working conditions. Firefirghters, Nurses, Police are paid abismisley low wages for the work they do.

    If the government won't listen strike, cause distruption, its your right as you live in a free country, and we are not controlled by the state. Though someone should tell the government that!!

  • Comment number 2.

    It's really simple. The people responsible for calling the strike on the Fire Brigade's busiest night should be criminally prosecuted if their stupidity causes unnecessary damage to property or, perish the thought, serious injury or loss of life.


  • Comment number 3.

    im with the firefighters on this on

    if i had a written contract then my "boss" Came in with a new contract and said sign this or your sacked i think id do the same as them.
    its not there fault there striking it can be fixed easily by not messing with a system that works brilliantly! our fireservice is one of the best and safest in the world for us and them.

  • Comment number 4.

    Should strikes be limited? Strikes should be banned and all disputes settled via ACAS.

  • Comment number 5.

    Looks like the FBU doesn't give a damn if Kids burn to death on Guy Fawkes night.

  • Comment number 6.

    Is the right to strike essential for everyone? Essential, no, but still a right.

    Should it be removed from emergency workers? No, it's their right too.

    Is it right for fuel suppliers to strike? Yes.

    Have you taken part in a strike? No.

    Is there an alternative to strike action? Sometimes, no.

    But none of this excuses the fact that the FBU are deliberatly striking on the busiest day of their calendar. That is immature, irresponsible and a public relations own-goal.

  • Comment number 7.

    Last time the fire brigade went on strike all they achieved was to demonstrate just how little they do. No wonder so many of them have the energy for a second job.

    Havng said that, I do think there is a place for industrial action- those who believe that working condtions would improve without strong unions are deluded.

  • Comment number 8.

    Frontline emergency staff (nurses, doctors, firemen, police etc) should not even be allowed to strike. The Armed forces can't so it shouldn't be any different for the Firemen.

    One only has to read about the poor family who lost their house this week because the firemen were striking. It's just not acceptable.

  • Comment number 9.

    Well, this can go either way. Yes, the Right To Withdraw Labour is often the only defense that employees have against continuing assaults on their rights by unscrupulous bosses.

    On the other hand; people should have a responsibility for the consequences of their own actions. If the FBU strikes on Bonfire Night, the resulting consequence is likely to be needless deaths from fires. When the RMT strike, commuters face misery and business lose millions. If fuel suppliers were to strike, as suggested in the article, the country would grind to a standstil and people would possibly lose their lives in the impending cold weather.

    The right of any employee to withdraw labour ought to be proportional, in some way, to how important that employee's job function is to the rest of the country - how much they affect wider society, people who have enough problems of their own without getting caught up in arguments between other people and their bosses.

    So yes - given that there appear to be certain union leaders who seem intend on causing maximum misery to innocent people every time they strike, I guess there should be some limits to who can strike, and when.

  • Comment number 10.

    Should strikes be limited?

    The unions are actually pretty useless these days.

    And i say that from experience.

    While I worked in the disability rights field I became aware of several cases where people who had spent a large part of their working lives paying into the union were completely let down by them and I don't mean that they didn't get the outcome they wanted, I mean the unions had to be bullied and cajoled every step of the way to provide support, and that which was provided was woefully ignorant of the law as pertains to employee rights.

    It made me wonder what the point of the unions was.

    This latest stunt by the fire brigade union merely underlines those feelings - its a publicity stunt, it won't result in better pay or conditions for anyone and it will turn the public against the fire fighters.

    We need Unions which work on behalf of their members, protecting them from exploitative employers.

    We do not need the modern unions of today which seem to think that the big, headline making strike is always the best way to achieve this.

    Get rid of the PR men and spin doctors and get the Union movement back to its roots.

  • Comment number 11.

    Of course everyone should have the right to strike most of the work force of this country do not wish to strike but as a last resort they must be in a position to show that they are not prepared to be walked on by unscrupulous employers or the government. We must be allowed to strike employers are already trying to make people work longer hours for less money. Most of us just want to work but we want to work for a decent days pay and not work for a pittance to enable just the few to get rich

  • Comment number 12.

    Striking is every man and womans right to stand up as one and say "we are being treated unfairly" you take that away and businesses and government will walk all over them. I stand by the firemen this bonfire night. any death that occurs rests on the governments conscience for not appreciating the common working person as he should be.

  • Comment number 13.

    When unions put themselves above public safety, it's time to curb their abuse power. They could strike anytime, why choose that night unless they really don't care about the public (you know, the citizens who pay their salaries)?

  • Comment number 14.

    I think the fire attenders have misjudged it this time. They have had it to good for to long.

    Time to stand up and do a days work for a days pay.

  • Comment number 15.

    Striking should always be the last resort but it should be possible for everyone. If the firefighters have got no where over the neogitating table I will fully support them in this action.

  • Comment number 16.

    4. At 1:11pm on 26 Oct 2010, Kuradi Vitukari wrote:
    Should strikes be limited? Strikes should be banned and all disputes settled via ACAS.
    -*-
    Great idea!
    Shall we vote on it, or is that to be banned also.

  • Comment number 17.

    So it seems that Fireman are fully prepared to put children's lives at risk purely to get themselves a better deal.

    So much for being honourable decent people. All their care about is getting their money and if people die because of their fight for it, they couldn't care less.

    I was pretty neutral on this before but now I am totally against them. Especially after listening to their union man on the radio today twisting the truth as to what it's all about.

  • Comment number 18.

    Irresponsible idiots. This sort of thing really should be outlawed. They should be thankful they are still in a job, are they living in the real world?

  • Comment number 19.

    If used at all, strikes should be a 'weapon' of the very last resort. Particularly when they spread outside the specific group of dissatisfied workers. Sympathy strikes are totally unacceptable!
    Strikes often endanger innocent people and are contrary to fairness and equity since those who are not involved may be adversely affected by the strike action. In many cases strikes are used as an opportunity for an unruly group to publicly air their dissent and create chaos in the city and beyond.
    Strikes are no longer a relevant part of 21st century society, they belong to the mid-twentieth century. Negotiation and arbitration should be the tools of choice for enlightened unionists and employers. Strikes are evidence of weakness and inefficiency among the leaders on both sides.

  • Comment number 20.

    Kuradi Vitukari wrote:
    Should strikes be limited? Strikes should be banned and all disputes settled via ACAS.

    Remove the right to strike and you remove every working person's last resort when protecting or trying to improve their working conditions.

    ACAS is a toothless monster as it is unable to insist on binding arbitration without both prties permission.

    Your policy would lead to bosses and governments implimenting whatever change they wished to peoples lives and working conditions while the rest of us have no protection at all.

  • Comment number 21.

    This is a device to gather publicity.
    Come the night, the strike will settled or postponed.
    In the meantime, the righteous will voice their indignations...
    We’ve been there before.

  • Comment number 22.

    Same old story. Boss sees a window of opportunity to make the unions look bad. So, issues a sacking notice with a promise of reinstatement if workers accept the new contract, with 2 weeks to comply. The timing during the firework season is no accident with Guy Fawkes and Diwali in the offing.

    Most other parts of the country have avoided conflict due to the bosses allowing negotiation. New arrangements have been agreed.

    Ministers should be criticising London Fire Brigade bosses for their cynicism and unethical methods of 'negotiation'.

  • Comment number 23.

    Of course workers should be allowed to strike,it is after all the only real sanction they have against the excesses of employers.
    Ever sinc the seventies workers rights have been insidiously eroded whilst employers have been given license to do almost anything they wish.
    What are you going to do ? Lock up 10000 strikers!

  • Comment number 24.

    I do understand the plight for the firemen and they are very brave people and I have a lot of respect for them, but having strikes all over the country is not going to change what needs to be done. I am sure that police men are not allowed to strike and I think the same should be for all emergency services. You cannot hold people's lives to ransom like that. Ah, the Health and Safety group might ban fireworks and bonfires just to ruin everyon'e fun which is something they seem to take great enjoyment out of. I also think that the whole rules on strike action should be much tougher. It is ludicrous to think that if only 1% of those who can vote actually vote and of that 1%, just over half have to be in favour for a strike to be legal.

  • Comment number 25.

    I'm with the firefighters on this one. As would any sensible person who can see past the usual propaganda.

    And 'concerned parents' will just have to do their job on Bonfire Night, and safeguard their own children. Surely they can do that, just this once??

    In any case, isn't it about time the Great British Public grew up a bit and stopped burning the effigy of a Catholic every year??

  • Comment number 26.

    if the government told me that I wasn't allowed to strike... I'd get all my colleagues and organise a country wide strike until they changed it. we shouldn't even be contemplating this.

  • Comment number 27.

    This situation is different to the striking tube workers.

    I'm probably going against the tide here but I totally agree with Scotty1964...

    ...if you have a written contract of employment you can't just have a different contract thrust in your face with a take it or leave it (sign the contract or be fired) approach.

    There are few jobs where (theoretically or actually) people will put their life on the line to help you. A fireman fits this category.

    And for the fire brigade the only way they will get their point across would be on bonfire night. Harsh as it may be I back them to the hilt. The other day firemen went on strike and a house was left to burn because the 'cover firebrigade' were not fit for purpose.

    Is that what people want if trained firemen are fired for refusing to sign the new contract?

    "Everything is negotiable" (Gavin Kennedy)

    Therefore I really hope and pray that the FBU, Fire Brigade management and Boris Johnson and others have the presence of mind to meet together and compromise to avoid this scenario because it will inevitably lead to at least 1 person losing their life.

    And people shouldn't have to resort to play political football with someone's life...

  • Comment number 28.

    'Ministers have accused the Fire Brigades' Union (FBU) of putting lives at risk by calling a strike in London on Bonfire Night.'

    ---

    Has it actually been established that Bonfire night in London is anymore dangerous than any other night?

    It seems obvious, but is it?

    I just don't want to go off half-cocked if it turns out that, because people take more precautions on that particular night, there are actually fewer incidents.

  • Comment number 29.

    12. At 1:18pm on 26 Oct 2010, KeithD wrote:
    Striking is every man and womans right to stand up as one and say "we are being treated unfairly" you take that away and businesses and government will walk all over them. I stand by the firemen this bonfire night. any death that occurs rests on the governments conscience for not appreciating the common working person as he should be.
    -------------------
    If your home catches fire on the night of the strike, will you still believe the same?

  • Comment number 30.

    There is no mention in the BBC report on exactly why they have called these strikes.

    So basically the management are imposing without consultation with their staff new terms and conditions to their contracts.

    Ask yourself, if a business had a contract with a company to purchase 50,000 items at £10 each and halfway through the supply of these items they were informed without prior consultation that the price per item was going up to £20 and the contract was invalid, how do you think that business would respond.

    Would they just bow their heads and say - sure that's OK we'll not take you to court and sue you for breach of contract. In fact we welcome the fact that we will be losing money on the deal, oh and thanks for not consulting us in advance, we'll just roll over to your wishes.

    So what's the difference here, an agreed contract is being breached.

    I know who I'd trust to save my life and it wouldn't be their management.

    There is blackmail going on here and it is not coming from the firefighters who are merely standing up for their rights as previously agreed.

    Pity more people in this country haven't got the backbone to stand up to blatant bullying of this nature.



  • Comment number 31.

    No emergency service should be allowed to go on strike. People who join the police or the armed forces know they cannnot strike when they join. Most people who want to join the fire service have to wait years for a vacancy, why do we continue to pander to such an in-demand career by allowing them to strike?

  • Comment number 32.

    12. At 1:18pm on 26 Oct 2010, KeithD wrote:

    I stand by the firemen this bonfire night.

    -----

    Probably the safest place..

  • Comment number 33.

    Workers in essential services should not be allowed to strike, holding the country to ransom. If they dont like their terms and conditions, they should jog on and let someone else do the job.

    Many many people in the private sector have seen massive changes to their terms of employment and, rather than bleating about it, they get on with doing a good job.

    About time our firefighters, police, nurses etc etc got that message

  • Comment number 34.

    I think that all emergency services should be banned from taking strike action. I am sure that the police are. It is a horrible time, but everyone has to take cuts. I do think that the government have to be careful about emergency services and the nation's defences. I also think that all public sector workers should be banned from strike action too as they are paid for by the tax money collected and paid for by the hard workers of this country. Private companies should make their own rules. I do think that if only 1% turn up to vote and over 50% of them vote in favour of a strike then it is legal is ludicrous. I think that at least 80% should turn up to vote and 90% of them should vote in favour.

  • Comment number 35.

    "Being treated unfairly" has to be seen in the current context. Around 490,000 public sector workers are set to lose their jobs entirely. Ask them if they'd sign a new contract at (perhaps) marginally worse terms than they have now.

    Meanwhile Mr Wrack knocks out £115,804 per annum (unaffacted by strike action. And without this dispute you'd never have heard of him.

    So who's being exploited?

  • Comment number 36.

    Whilst I have respect for Firemen, I think their choice of date (5th November) to strike is a slap in the face for the British public and is completely irresponsible. It's totally against the ethics of the service.

    As a pensioner on a VERY low income, I believe they should think themselves lucky.

  • Comment number 37.

    Should people have a right to strike? No. Should they have a right to resign? Yes.

    No one is forcing them to work, if they don't like it, go elsewhere. Blackmailing the government in any other circumstance like this would have you thrown in jail; because its a union, its fine - mental!

  • Comment number 38.

    Given the hideous quality of management in this country, the right to strike is crucial and shoudlbe reinforced.

    Many of the "manager class" seem incapable of doing anything but awarding themselves bonuses (usually through renumeration committtees made up of all school friends and colleagues).

    Wages for many are so pitifull and the cost of living so high that strikes are the only weapon many have left.

    This is a country that still distributes food parcels to its own population in the 21st century.

  • Comment number 39.

    Workers should have the right to strike to prevent being abused by government & employers, BUT when taking this sort of action workers really need to think of the implications. The London fire brigade is extremely irresponsible for taking this action on a day when they know their services are going to be in demand.

    "But Ben Sprung, London regional organiser for the FBU, told the BBC: "It's more of a symbolic night in my eyes. I can't remember a time when there was a mass display and people died there. " I hope this year isn't the year for a disaster then Mr Sprung, it will be on your head.

  • Comment number 40.

    5. At 1:11pm on 26 Oct 2010, grainsofsand wrote:
    Looks like the FBU doesn't give a damn if Kids burn to death on Guy Fawkes night.

    It's not up to the FBU to look after kids on Guy Fawkes night, it's up to their parents, - the same people who buy fireworks, so they can blow themselves up.

  • Comment number 41.

    "If the spineless out there who made comments grew a backbone and did what the French and Greeks did sooner rather than later their employers and government would have to listen."

    "Good Show.....

    Go on kids have a great bonfire night...!!!!

    Good luck London FBU members."

    "Stuff Public opinion it never won any pay rise or conditions for firefighters, only firefighters have done that."

    A few comments on a popular fire fighters forum.

    It certainly makes you wonder!

  • Comment number 42.

    Emergency workers should be rewarded more appropriately for the jobs they do, then there would be no need for strikes.

  • Comment number 43.

    Unions have a valid role to look after their members interests and I have nothing against that. Indeed I was a member of a union at one time many years ago.

    I did not then nor now believe in strikes or any kind of militant action. To my mind they are more about class war (workers vc bosses) than any kind of constructive negotiation. They only serve to entrench positions and prolong disputes. While I am for unions to represent those who cannot represent themselves, the class war baggage and political agenda means in many cases the union leading members into strikes when negotiation could achieve the same result.

    It is perhaps no surprise that union militancy has increased since the election. The FBU may claim to be taking on the London Fire Brigade but in reality it is taking on the Government. The strike is political and little to do with advancing the position of members.

  • Comment number 44.

    What a public relations own goal by the fireman's union!

    There are times when strikes are appropriate, but isnt it always more sensible to drag them to ACAS?

    Having said that this is probably one of the most pointless strikes i've heard of in a while. Surely with strikes, especially in the public sector, you need to get the public on side to win? I can just see the headlines the next day.... "young child burned to death while the firemen strike" (although i do sincerly hope it doesnt happen). The public will hate them and be staunchly against them if this happens.

    So yes, strikes shouldnt be limited, but unions are being oh so stupid by chosing that day.

  • Comment number 45.

    How many rights do you have to drop before a country can no longer be called a "democracy"?
    I do not condemn the "London Bonfire Night strike". It is only "irresponsible" & "reckless" if the firefighters do not have a contingency plan in case of emergency.
    A London FBU official said it was more of a "symbolic night". What does this mean, that we are making a mountain out of a mole-hill, that precautions have been planned, ready for action?
    The union plans to walk out for another eight hours on 1 November and for 47 hours on 5 November. What does "walk out" mean? You walk and then I walk, but contingenies are covered?
    The Prime Minister's spokesman: "The public would not think this is a responsible way of conducting industrial action to choose this particular day for a strike."
    The more I watch Governments in action, especially the UK and the US, the more I think they are trying to turn the little poeple against the little people so that the little people have no opportunity to express big-time wrath.
    London Mayor Boris Johnson: "There are solid contingency plans in place to deal with further firefighters strikes and Londoners should be confident that they can go ahead with their fireworks parties...take tried and tested precautions by following the Firework Code."
    I believe that this is simply the union's way of exerting pressure to squueze decisions: Earlier FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said they "had two weeks to settle this dispute before that strike".
    It's tempest in a teapot.

  • Comment number 46.

    "5. At 1:11pm on 26 Oct 2010, grainsofsand wrote:
    Looks like the FBU doesn't give a damn if Kids burn to death on Guy Fawkes night."
    ===============================================================

    If any kids do burn to death on bonfire night it will be the fault of their parents, or pure accident (nobody's fault). The FBU are not responsible for saving every life in relation to fire. Their members are paid, when on duty, to do their best (which they do brilliantly).

    Parents are fully responsible for the safety and welfare of their children, nobody else. If you're not willing to take the risk, and if the risk happens accept the consequences, don't let the children anywhere near fires or fireworks. End of story.

  • Comment number 47.

    8. At 1:13pm on 26 Oct 2010, MsVictoria wrote:

    Frontline emergency staff (nurses, doctors, firemen, police etc) should not even be allowed to strike. The Armed forces can't so it shouldn't be any different for the Firemen.

    -------------------------

    Correct, but wrong approach. If you rejigged your comment to:
    "The fire bridgade can strike, so it shouldn't be any different for the armed forces, police and doctors" then I'd be more inclined to agree. Striking is a last resort necessity that should be available to all professions.

    I suspect the decision to strike on bonfire night was to make sure their employers realised how much difficulty they'd get into without them - that is after all the purpose of a strike. Obviously bonfire night exemplifies this more than any other night.

    Both parties should work together to come to an amicable conclusion if possible. If not, the firefighters have every right to go on strike on whichever day they choose. I fully support them in their quest.

  • Comment number 48.

    I just dont get all this, Fire Fighters, Nurses,Train drivers,Civil servants etc why do they feel they constantly need to strike. try the private sector, no wage rises for almost 3 yrs pay standing still until companies return to profit... do they all think that we will mirraculously find a few billion to make them all on £60k per year jobs, working 20 hr weeks !!! spoilt children springs to mind ! why take a role if you know fine well you will be unhappy with pay/conditions. Unless you live on planet Zorb you will know all these areas are not too well paid and encouter long hrs etc, they then have no real right to continualy moan. Like the police they should be sacked if they strike. Plenty of people out there who would happily work for their good wages.

  • Comment number 49.

    #25 Commander_Gooner_Shepard

    Propoganda? letting houses burn down or people dying is all about propoganda is it? I think not.

  • Comment number 50.

    "29. At 1:27pm on 26 Oct 2010, Robert Gomez wrote:
    12. At 1:18pm on 26 Oct 2010, KeithD wrote:
    Striking is every man and womans right to stand up as one and say "we are being treated unfairly" you take that away and businesses and government will walk all over them. I stand by the firemen this bonfire night. any death that occurs rests on the governments conscience for not appreciating the common working person as he should be.
    -------------------
    If your home catches fire on the night of the strike, will you still believe the same?"
    ===================================================================

    No, but then I'm careful not to live in London!!!!

  • Comment number 51.

    At 1:09pm on 26 Oct 2010, SR wrote:
    It's really simple. The people responsible for calling the strike on the Fire Brigade's busiest night should be criminally prosecuted if their stupidity causes unnecessary damage to property or, perish the thought, serious injury or loss of life
    ____________________________________________________
    Im with you partly here, but the largest danger to property and anyone on Bonfire night is not the stupidity of the bangers and mash around but the arsonist/s can have a field day especially if there are no fire engines around. Even the false phone call to the opposite end of the town to where the fire really is, is always another possibility.

    I believe everyone has the right to withdraw thier labour but where life and limb is endangered then we really should be paying staff to lose that right. This applies to all rescue, hospital, security industries.

    Can one imagine a situation where a bomb goes off, and low and behold everyone is on strike. How stupid would that be, and its no use the strikers saying Oh we would turn up for an emergency, it would be too late and they would have broken ranks for what they are striking for.

    The authorities really need to get their acts together and up the money anti and the new contracts.

    Of course some wag will argue they sit around all day doing nothing, well training never stops as well as keeping fit. You try running up a ladder lift a body down while trying to remain calm and collective



  • Comment number 52.

    Sack them all, there are plenty of unemployed and east eurpeans who could do the job with a bit of training.In the meantime let the army take over.

  • Comment number 53.

    Yes keep the right to strike, but do I support the strike no, do I support management no. Years of experience tells both sides are being economical with the truth. With the number of websites available to government all details could be published, publish the contracts and highlight the changes plus staements from both sides. Then we can make an informed comment
    When I was at BL some strikes where called because they wanted to go fishing, and sometimes managers would deliberaytly abuse a shop steward uaually when we had cash flow problems.



  • Comment number 54.

    The last time the FBU went on strike, they still answered emergency calls. However to those who argue that emergency services should not strike what arbitration machinery would they put in place?
    Bearing in mind, freedom of association(which includes the right to form and join a trades union) and the right to withdraw ones labour are fundamenatl to a democratic society.

  • Comment number 55.

    The patronising comments of being reckless and irresponsible just goes to show how much the public rely on the Fire Brigade as a means of safety.

    If going on strike means they are putting lives at risk for Bonfire Night, then it shows their presence serves a purpose, so in order to get their point over they need to take action where the impact has maximum effect.

    Isn’t it strange how authorities claim cutbacks wont endanger lives but on this occasion it will. Is it because it is a strike - one law for workers, another for strikers?

    It is the managers and executives who try to control everything who are unreasonable and don’t listen that cause most problems and try to guilt trip the workers into feeling at fault.

    Go for it boys - show them you mean it.

  • Comment number 56.

    The firefighters risk their lives everytime they attend a fire it stinks when some mp(fire minister) on a huge salery comes on the news saying it wrong to strike the closest he gets to risking his life is when he goes to the house of commons bar for another cheap drink.

    Everyone should have the right to strike if its done within the law .

  • Comment number 57.

    The union will have you believe there's no risk with a strike on that night. If so, maybe the Fire Brigade is bloated. Perhaps we can afford to thin their ranks and save some money.

  • Comment number 58.

    Should everyone have the right to strike ?

    Yes.

    Perhaps the government could expend as much air criticisng the attempted imposition of a new contract on a "sign or be sacked" basis.

  • Comment number 59.

    Ah the fire-brigade union....whats up this time lads? The new rota's getting in the way of your taxi-driving?

    In this day and age strikes are only being used as collective extortion rackets "Give us what we want or we'll damage your business!" which Trade Unionists and Middle Class socialist-theorists will claim is their only option blah-blah!

    The facts are that Unions are parasites and employers are their hosts - the problem in the UK is that historically the parasite has drained so much life-blood from the host that it either dies or it is easier for the host owner to kill it - with either option the parasite dies too. (UK car industry, London docks, Fleet Street etc). This cannot be allowed to continue in the 21st century.

    Nobody is saying that employees should not be protected (even though they are by large amounts of UK and EU legislation) but the adversarial self interest of the unions has to be stopped. Where disputes occur, going to ACAS should be compulsary and it's findings binding.

    But the Unions won't agree to that as it will remove their muscle. Until the law changes with some genuine legislation that undermines them once and for all - this will sadly continue.

  • Comment number 60.

    If a firefighter can be paid as little as £22k (before tax) a year for risking life and limb, whilst benefits are being capped as high as £26,000 (no tax) it's hardly suprising that they're going on strike. On this basis i'm suprised the whole country isn't throwing in the towel!

  • Comment number 61.

    The government is just put out because the Fire fighters have just found a way to punish the strike breaking contractors in the dispute.
    With a 999 fire call every ten seconds at peak time on Bonfire night, lets see the strike breakers earn their 40 pieces of silver.

  • Comment number 62.

    Members of the public need to realise that when we are not on duty WE are member's of the public too, our loved one's and families and friend's are member's of the public also.So for people to comment that we dont give a damn about if children die is the most heartless thing ive heard, we are there 24/7 365 days, ready to preserve life and before you say thats the job we joined....YES it is, what we didnt expect after all our dedication to the public, to be faced with the sack when all we are trying to do is exactly that,protect the public, because if Coleman and Dobson have there way, well......look at it this way no fire service due to strike this
    year. no fire service due to no firefighters and stations next
    year....then you will see how every FF in the job worldwide not just london could be so wrong in fighting for YOU

    it also still seems that people think its about the money...how wrong...6000 FFs have been threatened with the sack if we dont sign up to a contract we dont believe in, pop down your local firestation to hear the truth...

    There is no magic number for us to call if we are in trouble we have to call 999 aswell,so the decision to leave our post's is a massive heartbreaking one to make, as we are humans too, but its one that we feel is necessary to highlight the injustice our fire service.



  • Comment number 63.

    "
    16. At 1:21pm on 26 Oct 2010, Cosmologic wrote:

    4. At 1:11pm on 26 Oct 2010, Kuradi Vitukari wrote:
    Should strikes be limited? Strikes should be banned and all disputes settled via ACAS.
    -*-
    Great idea!
    Shall we vote on it, or is that to be banned also.
    "

    Strikes are a great way to lose jobs, that's a fact.

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.

    Is bonfire night actually going ahead then? I thought some elf and safety jobsworth might have banned it for being too dangerous!

  • Comment number 66.

    "
    20. At 1:23pm on 26 Oct 2010, shillo wrote:

    Kuradi Vitukari wrote:
    Should strikes be limited? Strikes should be banned and all disputes settled via ACAS.

    Remove the right to strike and you remove every working person's last resort when protecting or trying to improve their working conditions.

    ACAS is a toothless monster as it is unable to insist on binding arbitration without both prties permission.

    Your policy would lead to bosses and governments implimenting whatever change they wished to peoples lives and working conditions while the rest of us have no protection at all.
    "

    Rubbish.

  • Comment number 67.

    Whilst I agree absolutely with the FBU's right to strike, I have to question their choice of date. British firemen are great at their jobs & are not, in general, serial strikers such as, say, the underground workers or BA staff, both of whom have pretty much exhausted any compassion the public had for them by now.
    I think some of the planned cuts are going to lead to areas (such as mine) being left dangerously understaffed. For example there was a fire in one of the shopping areas where I live recently. Our main fire station is as central as it's possible to get & they were first on the scene in a fire which eventually needed 12 engines & over 60 firemen. Above the store that caught fire are residential properties, I am in no doubt that, had our main fire station not been in operation & able to get there so quickly, people would have died. Now they are closing this station down & I & many others in my area simply cannot understand why, this is not a sub-station, it is a 24 hour station & one of the main training grounds for our area. I fell let down, confused & a little scared by the decision to close it & I will support the guys there when they strike.
    However there is a time & a place to make your point & NOV 5th is definitely NOT that day. It feels almost as if the FBU is HOPING for things to go badly wrong on bonfire night, with multiple injuries & possible deaths, simply so they can say "look how much you need us", this is not the way forward & will only serve to alienate them from the public.
    So whilst I agree with their right to strike, I do believe that some days should remain "sacred" & bonfire night is definitely one of them. Silly decision, made to make an even sillier point.

  • Comment number 68.

    The Tories are back in power so I guess it’s time for more union bashing. The Unions have already had many restrictions imposed on them under the Thatcher regime, some punishable by imprisonment. The Unions got a severe bashing at that time amid cheers from the private sector, except some survived (mainly public service Unions) and are still doing their best for their members. Without Unions employees would have no protection at all from extreme exploitation but essential services need special consideration and these need to be resolved at national level. The FBU say 79% of its members who voted support the action. We don’t know if all members voted but something is clearly amiss. Comparison with France does not help, in France they work to live, in the UK we live to work so the French are bound to have a different point of view.

  • Comment number 69.

    Surely we must defend all workers rights to strike. I don't believe this is an action anyone takes lightly, almost certainly it is only when allother avenues have been explored that workers resort to strike action. On the face of it calling a strike on 5th November may seem to be 'cynical'. Perhaps it is more an indication of how frustrated firefighters are with management. Why was 5th November set as a date for talks by employers - could this also be a 'cynical' move on their part? As is often the case with strike action the public are not fully aware of the circumstances involved. Union representatives are not professional communicators as are often the management representatives. Come on BBC give workers a fair chance. Let's hear their side of the story - not off the cuff, but a proper chance to state their case in a fully prepared way.

  • Comment number 70.

    · 2. At 1:09pm on 26 Oct 2010, SR wrote:
    It's really simple. The people responsible for calling the strike on the Fire Brigade's busiest night should be criminally prosecuted if their stupidity causes unnecessary damage to property or, perish the thought, serious injury or loss of life.

    #######################

    That would be this coalition government then



  • Comment number 71.

    when the London Fire Authority remove night time cover from selected fire stations as part of their Modernisation agenda, which is the true reason behind the shift imposition, will they replace them on bonfire night each year... I think not so where does that leave their moral high ground. I support the right to strike.

  • Comment number 72.

    Our firefighters have every right to strike when they are dictated to regarding thier contracts. If they give way to the employers demands then what does the future hold for them.
    Like the Police and NHS staff how many of us would have the courage to do these jobs, they put thier lives on the line for our protection, we should be as a nation 100% behind them, instead after reading some of the previous comments I can see that there are still a lot of narrow minded selfish bigots around.

  • Comment number 73.

    Seldom does the impact of a strike affect those it is directed against. Secondly, strikes nowadays invariably are a weapon of first use, when they should be an action of last resort, and thirdly, only rarely do strikes produce a clear cut 'winner' and often leave behind a surfeit of bitterness. The parties most instrumental in causing strike action, that is management and union leaders, usually are the ones most cushioned from its effects. This action by the FBU membership in London will be threatening if not downright intimidating to the public this emergency service is supposed to serve. I hope they will think long and hard between now and 5 November before being led by the nose by their militant union leadership into action they may well one day regret.

  • Comment number 74.

    Cameron calling fire-fighters irresponsible, haha what a joke. The condems are gambling with OUR economy and they have the cheek to call fire fighters irresponsible. The present system we live in is a total and utter joke, it rewards greed and selfishness whilst punishing selflessness.

  • Comment number 75.

    · 6. At 1:11pm on 26 Oct 2010, Dan_Dover wrote:
    Is the right to strike essential for everyone? Essential, no, but still a right.

    Should it be removed from emergency workers? No, it's their right too.

    Is it right for fuel suppliers to strike? Yes.

    Have you taken part in a strike? No.

    Is there an alternative to strike action? Sometimes, no.

    But none of this excuses the fact that the FBU are deliberatly striking on the busiest day of their calendar. That is immature, irresponsible and a public relations own-goal.

    ################################

    The whole point is that it will cause the most disruption, if it didn’t there would be no point

  • Comment number 76.

    The decision by fire fighters to strike on Nov 5 brings the service into disrespect. However arranged this is sick!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 77.

    "45. At 1:43pm on 26 Oct 2010, BluesBerry wrote:
    How many rights do you have to drop before a country can no longer be called a "democracy"?"
    ===========================================================

    Rights and Democracy; not the same thing at all.

    In fact, potentially democracy, as the rule of the majority, is the enemy of rights ... just because the (even small) majority don't like something, the (even large) minority are prevented from doing it.

    The UK ceased to be a respectable functioning democracy a long time ago (if it ever was).

    No MP gets the support of anything like the majority of his/her constituents. And the proposed change (referendum next year) is nothing more than a disgraceful fudge.

    When did we last have a Government elected with the votes of much more than a quarter of the electorate?

    Democracy in this country is a joke!

  • Comment number 78.

    · 18. At 1:21pm on 26 Oct 2010, Garth Crooks Is Admiral Ackbar sufc wrote:
    Irresponsible idiots. This sort of thing really should be outlawed. They should be thankful they are still in a job, are they living in the real world?

    ##########################

    Are you a professional doormat, or do you let your employers walk over you for fun?

  • Comment number 79.

    How can Bob Neil say the FBU are being reckless? It is the LFB employers who are threatening to sack all 5000 firefighters, that would leave London without fire cover for years while more were trained, but then how would they train them anyway as they would have lost all their experienced firefighters.

    A more important aspect is how can it be legal to just change an employees terms and conditions and if they don't like it, sack them after 90 days? It appears we have headed back to employment law of the victorian mill owners not the 21st Century. This has implications for everyone with a job and we should all support the firefighters who are yet again displaying their courage by standing up to unreasonable employers.

    Don't forget they have promised to call off the strike if the sacking threat is lifted; I don't think that is too unreasonable do you Bob Neil

  • Comment number 80.

    · 31. At 1:27pm on 26 Oct 2010, Splot wrote:
    No emergency service should be allowed to go on strike. People who join the police or the armed forces know they cannnot strike when they join. Most people who want to join the fire service have to wait years for a vacancy, why do we continue to pander to such an in-demand career by allowing them to strike?
    ###################

    Why?

    Its called democracy


  • Comment number 81.

    "52. At 1:47pm on 26 Oct 2010, kaybraes wrote:
    Sack them all, there are plenty of unemployed and east eurpeans who could do the job with a bit of training.In the meantime let the army take over."
    =====================================================

    What planet are you on???

    It would take months, probably years, to recruit and properly train a replacement force, which even then would have little real experience.

    The army? The army???? What, you mean the one that's up to it's neck in blood and bullets in Afghanistan? Is that the army you mean?

    Get real for goodness sake!

  • Comment number 82.

    61. At 2:06pm on 26 Oct 2010, yorkshire News wrote:
    The government is just put out because the Fire fighters have just found a way to punish the strike breaking contractors in the dispute.
    With a 999 fire call every ten seconds at peak time on Bonfire night, lets see the strike breakers earn their 40 pieces of silver.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    Whilst the card carrying Comrades stand back and watch the taxpayers - who pay their wages burn to death in order to prove a point? Nice attitude! The sooner this type of irresponsible behaviour is banned the better off we'll all be - or at least those not in the Fire Brigade Union - which if I'm not mistaken is almost all of us is it not?

  • Comment number 83.

    I wonder if John Prescott will be on the Picket Line this time?
    Minimum wage not reached £6 an hour yet, I would be ashamed to mention it if I were an MP.
    Some people still getting more in handouts than hard working decent people.
    Bankers (I did say Bankers) being rewarded for failure.
    Sometimes striking is the only option.
    I lived and worked through the 70's, and yes unions did go to far sometimes.
    But without standing up for yourselves, most bosses wouldn't give you anything.
    So yes everyone should have the right to strike.

  • Comment number 84.

    · 33. At 1:29pm on 26 Oct 2010, smell the coffee wrote:
    Workers in essential services should not be allowed to strike, holding the country to ransom. If they dont like their terms and conditions, they should jog on and let someone else do the job.

    Many many people in the private sector have seen massive changes to their terms of employment and, rather than bleating about it, they get on with doing a good job.

    About time our firefighters, police, nurses etc etc got that message

    ##################

    What message?

    That a small minority of the public think that they are second-class citizens because they stand up to be counted

  • Comment number 85.

    Whilst I appreciate that Firemen do a fantastic job, and put their lives on the line to save and rescue others, they also have great benefits, pensions etc...

    Outside of the public sector, most companies that I know of will state in contracts that they do not recognise union membership. In light of the current economic situation we are in, they should be thankful to have a job. I have had my contract changed on me with little notice before, and generally you have to accept it or find another job.

    Striking in this instance only serves to punish the public (and is irresponsible), whose money pays their salary. The punishment should be directed at the people making the contract changes, if at all.

    Furthermore, unions seem to be power hungry. Take BA as an example. They balloted all their members, and only around 60% (I forget the actual figure), actually replied, but because of that 60%, just over half voted for action, they took it. It isn't a majority of their members. The fact that 40% didn't even respond should tell them something. That strike did directly and adversely effect me. I just hope I do not need the help of the fire brigade while they are striking.

  • Comment number 86.

    " Looks like the FBU doesn't give a damn if Kids burn to death on Guy Fawkes night." grainsofsand.

    Yeh, that's why they have dedicated their working lives to saving people from life threatening situations, because they don't give a damn?

    What simplistic nonsense. Nobody WANTS to go on strike, but at the same time workers should not be in a position where they have to fight for rights with their hands tied behind their backs. Striking IS, and always will be, the last resort when all other methods have failed, despite the tabloid press painting a very different picture.

    Accusing unions of not exhausting all negotiations, usually means that management will continue to sit round the table and tell you that they will NOT be changing their decisions regardless of how much workers protest, resulting in unions realising that they are beating their heads against a brick wall. What do you expect them to do? Sit down and take it? No, we have all done that for too long! People in the public AND private sector should unite and fight for their rights!

  • Comment number 87.

    as usual the sheeple are out in force!
    seriously stop commenting on threads you know nothing about its not exactly hard to look at the actual related story?
    were do you get your facts people or as i suspect do you make them up?
    the firemen are not asking for more pay!
    its only london thats striking not the whole uk?
    and the people saying the army should do it?
    green godesses! hahahaha! there useless!
    if these firemen are so lazy etc
    YOU WONT MISS THEM ON THE 5TH THEN!
    all they want is a decent contract, they put up with all sorts in the job tramuas mentally and physically
    and to top that the yobs that lure them out and attack/throw bricks etc at them and they cannot legally do a thing?

  • Comment number 88.

    We should not limit rights until every one is getting a living wage.

    Strikes based on abuse by employers should not be limited, if anything there should be a simple class action "Constructive Dismissal" procedure introduced into employment law to deter bad employers.

    Similarly employers should be protected from abuse by groups of workers.

  • Comment number 89.

    • 8. At 1:13pm on 26 Oct 2010, MsVictoria wrote:
    Frontline emergency staff (nurses, doctors, firemen, police etc) should not even be allowed to strike. The Armed forces can't so it shouldn't be any different for the Firemen.

    MSVictoria – The Police force are not allowed to take strike action, they are banned from doing so under the police act 1996 and have not been on strike since 1919.

  • Comment number 90.

    I believe that emergency workers should be given a contract with conditions which are good enough so that they feel able to sign a 'no-strike' clause.

    If the govt comes along and changes their conditions for the worse, their 'no-strike' clasue should automatically lapse.

    Striking on Guy Fawkes night appears to be a fairly spectacular own goal though.

    On striking in general. Consider:

    When I had to change my plans because of the BA strike, I blamed (and still do blame) Unite and the BA staff. Not Wille Walsh. Just about everyone I spoke to at the airport also blamed the union. Most of the people I have ever spoken to whose lives have been disturbed by industrial action blame the unions. Not the management.

    In my experience strikes are virtually always futile. (I've never been on strike myself though I know colleagues who have). Certainly futile since 1979 when the govt showed that if they kept their nerve they'd win. As far as I can make out the only thing that happens is that the employers' wage bills are reduced. And the strikers left out of pocket. And usually get nowhere near what they want.

  • Comment number 91.

    Strikes are unfortunately often necessary because there is no other way in which normal working people can defend themselves against commercial, industrial and political exploitation.
    What should not be allowed however, are so-called strikes by students. As a rule, these young people enjoy an educational privilege, which they are given at the expense of others who themselves never had such a chance. It is also wrong for strikers to threaten or endanger persons who, for whatever reason, have an different view to those taking action.
    Strikes were and are a sign of active democracy!

  • Comment number 92.

    fair wages and conditions then people would not strike.................................. by the way how mush are the top brass on a year in the fire brigade?

  • Comment number 93.

    Corporations should also have the right to fire strikers or bring in replacement workers.

  • Comment number 94.

    I am a member of the Emergency Services in Manchester(paramedic) and no we should not be allowed to strike! Paramedics can be charged by law for denying the public an Ambulance why is it not a crime to deny the public of a Fire Service. The fire service are being completely unreasonable over this issue. Its a matter of 4 hours!! The threat of being sacked is a last resort by the management because of the lack of reasoning and felxability. A majority of Emergency Services workers, Medics, Police, Nurses would love to have they're night shifts reduced by 4 hours. The shift patterns in the other services are far more unsocial than our Fire service colleagues for example 12pm - midnight 3pm to 3am I could go on. A majority of people know the issue with the fire service is this will effect the second Jobs!
    Striking on the 5th of Novemeber which is a Busy night for ALL emergency services and hospitals is quite simply wrong and they should be dealt with appropriately for doing so. the goverment need to step in and stop this.

  • Comment number 95.

    Clever dicks who think by changing someones contract gives them the right to sack that person for not wanting to accept less favourable terms seems like a typical Tory idea.I dont believe in strikes normally but in this case I think the firefighters have good cause.If this sort of intimidation were to be repeated everywhere nobodies employment contract would be safe including many who think it will never happen to them.

  • Comment number 96.

    In these tough times going on strike to shut down a portion or all of country's economy is selfish and doesn't garner any friends. The French however seem to relish the idea of tearing their country apart just to prove their arguments. Rioting and destruction based on retiring at 60 years old sounds like a bunch of petulant children who can't have more cookies and milk. Personally I'd like to see the entire country of France totally shut down until the army must be called in. Their economy will suffer a catastrophic blow and everyone can then retire - there won't be an economy for anyone.

  • Comment number 97.

    Have we learned nothing since the Winter of Discontent? I was living in Croydon, and on the road as a rep. Driving home from Lewisham, in the dark, on iced up roads in SE London was a nightmare. No traffic lights, no salt on the roads, the Army having to become "firemen". How sad. The unions still want to bring down the country. Theattitude is pervasive among the lesser educated among us, who are influenced by what are no more than union thugs. When you sign up to become an emergency worker, you dont go into it with strike action on your mind, and risking the lives you are paid to protect. If the UK is that bad, go live in Haiti or the Sudan, then come back and tell me how bad it is in Blighty. Limit strikes? Thats like asking should we allow paedophiles to freely act out their sick behaviour as and when they feel like it, or is murder justified. In the 21st century, striking is as legitimate as running handsome cabs in London. Shape up and grow up. In the home of Communism, whose members seem to "lead" the unions, you go on strike and you may never be seen again. I love the irony.

  • Comment number 98.

    What right has a worker other than to work or not to work? Either the govUK buy that right from the worker with conditions and remuneration deals or they can strike.
    It is also to be noticed that the FBU can state the percentage who supported this, but fail to give the percentage who responded.
    We have a weak, lack lustre Conservative lead govUK, a la Heath of the “Winter of discontent.”
    Are union leaders without any understanding history in their union paid for degrees? The current govUK “leadership” have neither the courage or the stomach to battle.
    They’ll witter but achieve nothing, but let the rubbish build on the streets the rats be a constant sight on TV, let the press report, if they dare, a pretty little baby child killed on Bonfire Night, with out the call for this tradition to be banned like stag hunting, but the direct result of the strike. Then a new charismatic leader will arise and the unions will again be vanquished to the betterment of the public. They truly only exist in the safe, protected state sector jobs. They represent virtually no “profit and wealth” generating workers only state functionaries. They, the union leaders, brought about the 3 day week, petrol rationing, rubbish in the streets, oh not in the leafy lane union tsars inhabit, but in the streets of the foot soldiers they scarified for their importance. Finally it was impotence; when Maggie saved the country from them and broke union veto on national policy. So many lost livelihoods due to the union oligarchies, except the union masters.
    However,the truth is being airbrushed out in the rush to save the Nu-Lab darlings of the press.

  • Comment number 99.

    Would there actually be any point in a strike if it did not inconvenience someone. That surely is its purpose. We live in a so called democracy and as such should have the right to strike. This is nothing new-we have been though (well people of my age have) all these things before-nurses strikes, police strikes, general strikes. What people today fail to grasp is that alot of things that are now taken for granted as far as working conditions are concerened have been fought for by unions and indeed many have gone on strike without pay over such issues. But they are now accepted as normal.

  • Comment number 100.

    All I can say is that with all these hard working fire fighters not at work, the capitals windows will be gleaming that week...

 

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