spotInternational figures

spotLabour Party figures




spotOther UK politicans

spotSocialist Party and CWI public figures

spotTory figures

spotTrade union figures


spotWriters and artists

All keywords

Trade union figures keywords:

Bob Crow (158)

Brendan Barber (15)

Brian Caton (31)

Dave Prentis (30)

Dave Ward (7)

Len McCluskey (62)

Marion Lloyd (17)

Mark Serwotka (85)

Matt Wrack (46)

Ronnie Draper (9)

Steve Hedley (9)

Tony Woodley (7)

Matt Wrack

Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 856, 20 May 2015: Cut rents not benefits

Search site for keywords: FBU - National Shop Stewards Network - Labour - Union - Pensions - TUSC - Cuts - Fire - Matt Wrack

FBU debates how to combat Tory onslaught

Firefighters marching in London against pension cuts , photo Paul Mattsson

Firefighters marching in London against pension cuts , photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Rob Williams

At the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) conference and various fringe meetings, delegates were trying to come to terms with the Tory majority government, further austerity and attacks on trade union rights.

The union's president opened conference by admitting he had just joined Labour. Yet the same conference unanimously passed a West Midlands motion instructing the FBU executive council to approach other unions to address the lack of political representation for trade unionists.

On the last night up to 70 delegates - about a third of conference - came to the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) fringe meeting 'What is the political direction of the FBU?'

Speakers included FBU general secretary Matt Wrack and TUSC chair Dave Nellist. Many in the audience took away TUSC join cards to sign up workmates.

The meeting discussed the disastrous Labour election campaign and the Blairite attempt to push the party rightwards. Here and in the conference, Matt criticised the Labour leadership while admitting the union had seen a Labour victory as the only way to get rid of the Tories.

It was clear from the meeting that many FBU activists are open about the idea of a political alternative. Even TUC general secretary Francis O'Grady said to conference, unprompted: "After the election some will inevitably raise that we need a new party of the left and that is fair enough" before opposing the idea!

Withdrawn motions

These debates were reopened in the final session of conference when discussing Labour Party re-affiliation. Two resolutions calling for this were both withdrawn. In the TUSC fringe meeting Matt asked those supporting the resolutions what their strategy to change things was, as he had never heard it!

Both resolutions suggested that because Labour had given some support on pensions, the time had come to re-affiliate. But Labour just offered a few compromises that stayed within the Tories' cost ceiling. Labour approved the primary legislation on public sector pensions that created the 2015 pensions scheme. Labour councillors on regional fire authorities have voted through Tory cuts.

A motion calling on the executive to push for coordinated industrial and political action in the TUC against further austerity and to defend trade union rights was carried.

Conference also discussed the fight against fire service cuts and especially the union's industrial action struggle against the attack on their pensions.

In an impassioned speech, Matt Wrack said: "We will not roll over and see our service decimated... We have to pick ourselves up, get thinking and get organising."

A motion from West Yorkshire delegate Dave Williams, seconded by West Midlands delegate and Socialist Party member Dave Pitt, to affiliate to the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) was passed. Nine unions now officially support the network.

National Shop Stewards Network 2015 conference

This year's NSSN conference is open to everyone in the trade union and anti-cuts movements who are determined to organise the fightback against the Tories. Register today!

Saturday 4 July, 11am - 4.30pm

Conway Hall, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL

Confirmed speakers include PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, BFAWU general secretary Ronnie Draper and anti-blacklisting campaigner Dave Smith

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

February 2018

January 2018