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Terry Fields


Big business the most to lose

(November 1977)

From Militant Special, November 1977, p. 1.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Terry Fields, Regional Secretary of Merseyside FBU, talking to Terry Harrison on the first day of the strike


The labour movement in Merseyside is 100% behind the firemen. Terry Fields, regional secretary explained:

“The labour movement can see through the smoke screen that it is really big business that is at the back of this propaganda campaign. It is big business that has the most to lose, and big business is only tied up with £sd. Human life comes second to them.”

Terry has no quarrel with individual soldiers. He pointed out that:

“... the young elements in the army are there today because there are no other jobs for them. We’ve seen the recruiting campaign having great effect in the Kirby area. There you have a community with nowhere to turn for jobs because the jobs have been ripped out by big business.

“Obviously people in their own neighbourhoods are going to rally round in the event of a fire. But for volunteers to come in and act as fire brigade personnel, or some of these part-timers, certainly we’ve no time for them. They are just strike-breakers.”

He pointed out that part-timers get a wage in industry in which they work, negotiated by their trade union. They work for the fire service on a voluntary basis, getting an annual retainer, turning-in fees and an hourly rate that is in excess of what a qualified fireman receives.

But Terry was extremely pleased at the volume of support that they had received. He was adamant:

“It is not through economic pressure that they are going to force firemen into the dust: we live on starvation wages anyway. Far be it from us to welcome support from the state. Our members have no alternative but to take support from the state in the form of rent and rates rebates, free school dinners, and family incomes supplements.”

Commenting on the General Secretary’s statement that if the government came up with the right kind of offer, the basis for a return to work could be achieved, Terry said:

“As far as our General Secretary is concerned, the offer has to be good before we would even consider it. We have not closed our ears to negotiations. They will have to go on before this situation is resolved. The sooner the better.”

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Last updated: 19 January 2018