Friday, 5 November 2010

Another childish refrain from the bosses

Firefighters in London have agreed to call off the strike on Bonfire Night, after bosses agreed to go into arbritration with the Resolution Advisory Panel (RAP). The London Fire Brigade have postponed a threat to sack firefighters if they refused to sign new contracts, making negotiation possible again.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, is pleased with this not only because his members now stand a chance of getting a reasonable deal, but also because of the safety concerns around untrained scabs from AssetCo. He said, "we have watched the work of the private contractors who are supposed to protect Londoners with mounting concern."

All of which shoul be good news, for all concerned. Certainly, I wish the FBU luck in bargaining for the best deal for their members, and much of the public will be relieved to have a fire service tomorrow night. But why the continual misinformation and sniping from the press and the bosses?

London's fire authority Chairman Brian Coleman called it a "sensible move," and is relieved that there won't be strikes. Which is fair enough. But he also has to stick his oar in and claim that "these strikes have always been unjustified, unnecessary and utterly avoidable." The threat of mass sackings and media smear campaigns said otherwise.

And why were the strikes so "unjustified," but the running over of pickets by scabs unworthy of comment?

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail tries to argue that "following a meeting of FBU leaders, it was announced that the union had decided to cancel the strike after concerns about public safety." This allowed them to paint the FBU as uncooperative by offering a quote from Fire Minister Bob Neill "urg[ing] the FBU to go back to the negotiating table and resolve this dispute through reasoned debate."

The fact that they have, and that this is the real reason for the strike being called off, is buried in a single line. After all, we can't concede that the withdrawal of labour is one of the few ways in which organised workers match the bargaining power of the bosses, can we?

I should be over this by now. The media always have been, and always will be, cheerleaders for the bosses against the demons of organised labour and poor people standing up for themselves. It has never been an honourable game, and pathetic little side-swipes are par for the course. But, despite this, the whole thing continues to piss me off.

It should piss everyone else off too. To the point, in fact, where we utterly neglect the corporate media and work to actively rebuild the solid and widely-read working class press that once existed in Britain. Especially with the advent of the internet, such a turnaround is long overdue.