Ministers harden line against firefighters
On the second day of a nationwide firefighters? strike (see WIT for Nov. 13, 2002)---and realizing how woefully under equipped the military is to fill in for professional firefighters using advanced equipment now locked up in fire stations surrounded by picket lines---British Prime Minister Tony Blair is already considering hard line measures. Mr. Blair has refused to rule out the possibility of ordering armed forces members to cross picket lines to take control of fire engines far more powerful than the military?s outdated equipment---an order that military officers would be reluctant to give an d soldiers would be reluctant to follow according to top military officials. In response to the Fire Brigades Union?s plans to begin holding eight-day strikes on November 22 if the two-day strikes it has just embarked on are ineffective, officials in Mr. Blair?s government have raised the possibility of using anti-union legislation passed a decade ago by Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.