FBU. Photo: Paul Mattsson
FBU. Photo: Paul Mattsson

Callum Joyce, Oxford Socialist Party

Over 40 Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members recently held a lobby of Oxfordshire County Council to protest against a new ‘Direct Entry’ measure, which allows the recruitment of staff into the Fire and Rescue Service at station manager level without sufficient prior experience working in the service itself.

The main concern raised at the lobby was over the huge safety implications of this decision: that unqualified managers will not be equipped for dangerous situations that require years of experience to know how to deal with properly.

Before the lobby, FBU Executive Committee member Steve Wright spoke to the assembled firefighters to explain: “If this is forced through here, it will be forced through everywhere else … We’re not going to walk away, we’re going to keep challenging them.”

This measure can be stopped through determined action – a similar scheme in Greater Manchester was dropped after local protest.

It is clear that those who work in the Fire and Rescue Service are most qualified to decide how it should be run. The Socialist Party believes that all decisions around hiring, funding, and station management should only be carried out with proper democratic oversight by representatives from the FBU and local residents.

This is part of a continued attack on workers’ conditions and workplace safety, along with the Tories’ new anti-trade union bill. The FBU has called for mass opposition to this new measure.