Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has paid tribute to the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) on its one hundredth anniversary. Speaking at an event to mark the anniversary, Corbyn commended the work that the union had done to improve standards.
“I pay tribute to the Fire Brigades Union on its 100th anniversary, and I am proud to be attending the Centenary Service to celebrate the work, bravery and sacrifice of firefighters across the UK. We are all much safer today because of our firefighters’ tireless work over that hundred years.
The FBU’s outstanding record underlines the vital role of trade unions in standing up for workers and changing the lives of millions of people for the better.
The FBU has been at the heart of the Labour Party as an affiliate for most of its existence and a key part of the labour movement.
I am proud to lead a Labour Party that is supported by the FBU and its members campaigning for worker’s rights, social justice and defending our public services.
We all know that you cannot keep the public safe on the cheap. As we pay tribute to the work that our firefighters do in keeping us all safe, we must make sure that debt is repaid – so that the fire service is funded properly and that these brave and dedicated public service workers are treated with the respect they deserve.
Firefighters have lost faith in this Tory government. Tory austerity is putting the public at risk and damaging an essential professional public service.
Firefighters dealt with more incidents, more fires and saw more fire deaths last year than for most of the last decade in England, yet the Tories continue to starve fire authorities of the central funding necessary to keep the public safe.
Cuts have consequences, and we cannot afford to cut these vital public services. Since 2010, one-in-five firefighter jobs have been cut. In England, that is almost 9,000 frontline firefighter jobs. That means fewer firefighters at the early stages of incidents, slower response times and greater risk to the public.
These dreadful figures confirm firefighters’ worst fears. Austerity is putting public safety at risk.”
Matt Wrack, the General Secretary of the FBU, said at the event:
“This is a once in a generation event, the largest of its kind, which will celebrate the fire and rescue service, our union and commemorate the friends we have lost along the way.
When our union was first formed firefighters lived on stations, had the most basic protective equipment and were paid less than unskilled labourers. Today’s fire service is far from perfect but the improvements we have seen are the result of campaigns run by our members over 100 years.
In our centenary year, we have been celebrating the work of firefighters who have shaped the modern fire and rescue service and improved the safety of our communities. Reflecting on the experiences of our proud past can guide us in strengthening our union for the future.”