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GOVERNMENT demands that almost three-quarters of firefighters must work during strikes sparked renewed commitments of resistance from their union and the TUC today.
Statutory scabbing levels of 73 per cent by firefighters were announced by the government’s Crime, Policing and Fire Minister Chris Philp.
Mr Philip said: “Fire and rescue services play a critical role in society and protect the public in emergencies and we must ensure this is maintained during periods of industrial action.
“The new minimum service level for fire and rescue will help save lives.”
He said firefighters must respond to all emergency calls during strike action.
Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This is an outrageous and authoritarian plan to seek to ban strikes in the Fire and Rescue Service.
“The government wants this in place so that it can attack the pay and conditions of firefighters and other workers.
“It’s one of the worst assaults in the last century on the rights of working people to defend themselves.
“The Fire Brigades Union will resist this dictatorial legislation in every way possible.”
A special TUC conference has already vowed to resist the implementation of the government’s minimum service levels legislation.
The commitment was reiterated today by TUC general secretary Paul Nowak following the announcement, calling it a “flagrant attack on the right to strike of firefighters.”
He said: “No-one should be sacked for exercising their right to strike. But that is exactly what the government is threatening.
“These new laws are undemocratic, unworkable and are likely illegal. And they will do nothing to resolve industrial disputes.
“The Conservatives know this but they are desperate to distract from their dire record in government.
“Our message to government is loud and clear. We will fight these draconian laws all the way – working with the FBU and every other union affected. And we won’t rest until these laws are off the statute book.”
Under the new laws, government ministers will dictate levels of services which must be maintained during strikes.
Workers who refuse to work can be sacked with no redress.
Unions which refuse to comply can be prosecuted and their funds sequestrated.
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