The Socialist 15 May 2004
Get The Troops Out
Stop press: FBU conference
THE Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has voted to suspend its conference after the employers' refusal to pay the 3.5% increase still outstanding from last November.
An emergency statement from the executive committee condemned the employers' continued prevarication. The statement, which was overwhelmingly endorsed by the conference, calls for the union to withdraw immediately from parts of the deal already agreed and for an immediate industrial action ballot if the government attempts to impose a settlement.
The FBU was told that negotiations over stand down time at night would not delay any further payments of the pay deal but the employers have reneged on this. The employers were given until noon on 11 May to clarify whether they intended to honour the deal. After they refused, emergency delegation meetings were held to consider what action to take.
The executive's emergency statement called for the conference to be immediately suspended, all the outstanding conference business held off and delegates to go back to prepare the way for a ballot on industrial action. This would be sanctioned by a recall conference in June.
This caused some concern amongst left-wing delegations who welcomed the call to go back and prepare for industrial action but saw the FBU leadership's suspension of conference as a means of avoiding awkward issues on the agenda, like the link with Labour and the witch-hunt inside the union.
They felt that if the conference had taken a clear stand on issues like breaking the link with Labour, it would help to enthuse the membership for further battles. General secretary Andy Gilchrist had to promise that all the issues on the agenda will be discussed at the recall conference.
In this issue
Socialist Party election campaign
Workplace news and analysis