Our Say

After G8 and the London bombings - the way forward

London terror attacks condemned

After Live 8:
from pressure to action

The G8 summit and political power

Make the G8 leaders history

A sham election

10 good reasons to boycott May 5

Don't be blackmailed into voting

Reject ‘dependency’ politics

No votes for New Labour!

Parliament seals its own fate

A secret policeman's government

Vote for "none of the above"

How to remember the victims of the tsunami

A state of crisis

New Labour and the big lie

Yasser Arafat - a revolutionary life

After the US election

Blood on New Labour's hands

Butler and weapons of mass deception

With 'leaders' like these, who needs enemies?

How to meet the threat from the right

Barbarians at the gate

Torture, values and lies

The silence of the lambs

War crimes in Iraq

The slaughter in Madrid

The unfinished business of the miners’ strike 1984-85

L’état – c’est New Labour

The death of liberal democracy foretold

Hutton washes the state whiter than white

Top-up fees and the market economy

Our challenge for 2004

New Labour's march to a police state

Bush & Blair - partners in crime

London Region revolts against FBU leaders

Postal workers in the front line

No turning back

Where we go from here

Stop the War Coalition leaders and political fabrication

Regime change begins at home

Blood on New Labour's hands

There's more involved than just Blair

New Labour, lies and spies

Firefighters should reject deal and disown leaders

BECTU vote on New Labour link a step forward

Time runs out for FBU leaders

New Labour's one-party state

The blind alley of crude anti-Americanism

Occupation of Iraq - time to move beyond protest

War is a test for principles

Iraqi defiance shocks and awes

FBU leaders who backed capitulation should resign now

Down with New Labour's war - for regime change in Britain

FBU at war with New Labour

New Labour, not just Blair, is the target

50 years since the death of Stalin - an assessment

FBU finds itself in Precott's trap

War is Peace - Blair's fictitious 'push for peace'

15/2: Global marches put power on the agenda

Crisis of globalisation behind attack on Iraq

Tell it how it is

An injury to one is an injury to all

War plans expose fraudulent 'democracy'

A 'regime change' in Britain is the answer to war on Iraq

FBU needs a new strategy

Challenging New Labour

A moment of truth in the fight against New Labour

Gilchrist says it how it is

Time to defy the anti-union laws in support of the FBU

FBU must ask for solidarity strikes

FBU leaders must ask for support now

New Labour provokes confrontation

Italian police attack No-Global movement

New Labour declares war on FBU

Don't let the FBU fight alone

UN writes a blank cheque for war

Blood on Putin's hands

Unions must support firefighters with action not words

Support the firefighters - defeat New Labour

Bush-Blair war agenda revealed

Seeing through New Labour's weapons of mass deception

The US media and the new garrison state

The BEGINNING of Politics

How technology could
free humanity

'Terminator' engineering: A threat to humanity

The future is socialist

Asylum legislation fuels racist attacks

Road map to the future

E-mail to hear about site changes, placing 'update' in body of message



London Region revolts against FBU leaders 

The capitulation by Fire Brigades Union leaders to employers/government demands on pay and conditions has led to a revolt against the leadership by the union’s London region.

The region, which represents a key section of the membership, says it has no confidence in the union negotiators, including general secretary Andy Gilchrist, the national officers and the executive council. It has demanded a recall of the FBU conference and a campaign to “reclaim the union” for the membership.

FBU leaders stand accused of misleading the membership in June this year when they persuaded them to accept a half-baked deal after a series of strikes in support of the claim for a living wage.

Promoted as an honourable settlement, it was clear that major cuts in conditions and fire cover would follow to finance for any pay rise.  This is what New Labour ministers insisted on from the start.

The cat is now out of the bag, as the London region has confirmed. Behind the employers’ decision to withhold half of the pay rise due under stage 2 of the agreement are a series of changes supported by the FBU leadership which seriously weaken firefighters’ conditions. Stage 2 contains:

  • proposals to freeze and phase out long service pay, which will produce a  cut in basic pay for FBU members and reduce their pensions
  • plans for a cut in the rate of pay for a number of ranks/roles   

A resolution passed unanimously by the London region says: “The Fire Brigades Union is facing the biggest crisis in its history. Our leadership have completely surrendered the pay campaign to the employers and the government. They are in the process of giving away hard won conditions of service without any proper debate and without a mandate. They are in the process of ripping up long-standing conference policies without holding a union conference.

 “We are aware of the huge anger and frustration which exists among London members of the FBU. We urge London members NOT to resign from the union but to stay and fight for a union that is democratic and defends the interests of its members. We pledge that the London regional Committee will do all in its power to reclaim this union for its members.”

After passing a series of no-confidence votes, the London regional committee added: “FBU members were given misleading information regarding the settlement of the pay dispute. This misleading information … ensured that re-call conference in June voted to agree the employers offer.”

The executive council has refused to allow a re-call conference to discuss the Stage 2 proposals. Instead, it is “consulting” on the delayed pay rise, bypassing union branches and going directly to individual members.

The resolution passed in London says it is confident that the majority of members oppose stage 2 proposals and that the executive has not properly represented their views. At least two regions have been absent from recent executive meetings, adding to their argument that the meetings are undemocratic.

Before the no-confidence motion, the regional committee had already demanded a renegotiation of stage 2 to maintain and enhance existing conditions.

The crisis in the FBU results from the refusal of Gilchrist and other leaders to confront New Labour and its public services agenda, which is based on cost-cutting, job losses and private sector profiteering. Rather than appeal for support during the dispute, they left the FBU isolated and scraped together an agreement that apparently got them off the hook.

But the membership is refusing to pay the price, as the London region has shown, and moves are growing to replace the leadership as soon as possible. What FBU and other trade unionists require are leaders who are not simply more militant and democratic but who are clear about New Labour.

Gilchrist and other union leaders want their members to believe they can “do business” with the Blair government and get some concessions. From the railways to the health service, to the fire service and education, the reality is much starker.

Trade unionists need leaders who will lead a campaign to reject New Labour completely and to open up discussions about alternative ways to represent workers’ interests and policies that challenge the brutality of the market economy.

Movement for a Socialist Future
13 November 2003