LABOUR will halt fire-service cuts to ensure brigades are safely staffed and equipped, shadow chancellor John McDonnell vowed yesterday.
Addressing Fire Brigades Union (FBU) delegates in Blackpool, Mr McDonnell promised the “heroes and heroines who risk their lives every day” an end to the job cuts.
He said a future Labour government would carry out a review of staffing to ensure safe numbers at fire brigades.
Mr McDonnell highlighted that the Tory government has laid off 10,000 firefighters, which has led to worsening response times, putting the lives of public and crews at risk.
“I don’t want to go to any more tributes for firefighter deaths,” he said. “We will ensure an end to the cuts and set minimum standards that will keep people and staff safe to ensure our fire service will be world-class once again, no longer leading the world as a result of austerity.
“ When we’re elected we will end the attacks on employment terms and conditions to ensure you are the best paid, the best trained.
“That’s our commitment because we think it’s the right thing to do. When we expose the threat to fire safety, you know people are as shocked as we are. Fire safety is critical but it requires investment.”
He also confirmed Labour will lift the government’s 1 per cent pay cap, ensuring an end to firefighters’ crippling year-on-year pay freeze.
The Trade Union Act will also be scrapped within the first 100 days of a Labour government “because we believe that trade union rights are the same as human rights,” he said.
And he reiterated Labour’s pledge to end “industrial scale” tax avoidance and evasion.
Mr McDonnell told delegates: “In four weeks’ time we’ve got the opportunity of a lifetime, the opportunity to elect a Labour goverment with Jeremy Corbyn. This is about seizing the moment: carpe diem.”
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack warned conference that a formerly world-class fire service is being “wrecked” by a Tory government.
He said: “We will do everything we can as a union in every single brigade to get rid of these people who stand for the destruction of our union and public services.”