Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/425/4976

From The Socialist newspaper, 2 February 2006

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack speaks to the socialist

Firefighters prepare to strike against pensions' robbery

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, speaks at Socialism 2005Matt Wrack was elected general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in May 2005 as a left-wing challenger to the incumbent general secretary Andy Gilchrist.
Matt spoke to the socialist about the battle the union is now undertaking to defend its members' pension scheme and how the union is developing.

Matt Wrack speaks at the Socialist Party's Socialism 2005

"WE'VE BEEN discussing pensions for about a year with the government. They are proposing a new scheme for new entrants from April 2006 and changes to the existing scheme for new members. We also have 1,500 members in the local government scheme - emergency fire control centre workers - who face the same changes as other local government workers.

We have reached the stage where the negotiations haven't made any real progress and the FBU executive council therefore considered what action to take. Our conference policy is that if there are any proposed detrimental changes to our pension scheme our conference will be recalled to discuss it. Our recall conference meets in Southport on 16 February.

A resolution is now being discussed by FBU members that would launch a ballot for strike action. It has given FBU members extra confidence that other workers in local government are also preparing to ballot for strike action.

Undoubtedly, it's important that, if at all possible, we co-ordinate our campaign with other trade unions, that is clearly part of our policy and part of the resolution being put to our members. Just announcing a ballot has given a boost to our members at meetings I have attended recently.

Our other national priority is the threat of regional fire control centres. Each individual fire service now has its own control centre but now the government plans to regionalise them. This will mean a loss of jobs and for the public it will mean a poorer service. We are now involved in a national campaign to try and stop it (see article below).

We have put counter-proposals which are being discussed in the service at present.

Also, at a local level there is an ongoing threat to jobs and fire cover, which is tied up in all the jargon about 'modernisation' of the fire service. What this means is attempts to get rid of fire engines and close fire stations or a combination of the two.

For example, there are attempts being made to reduce cover at night-time. On the one hand this means the public get a worse service with less firefighters and engines available. For our members it means the employers come along and try to change or impose shifts - making for unworkable and unfriendly shifts.

Our union went through a big struggle a few years ago and clearly a number of employers and chief fire officers think the union is on the back foot and beaten. But, since 2003, we've already had two local brigades voting for strike action in Suffolk and the West Midlands, which in terms of following a national dispute is quite quick.

We've also had a number of other ballots for action short of a strike. So the FBU is still there; still representing its members.

We now have a number of priorities. We need to re-engage with the members and develop strategies to deal with the new environment. There has been a certain shift away from national bargaining to localised bargaining on certain issues, such as shifts for example. So we need to make sure we've got training in place for local officials to take these matters up.

We also need to pay attention to developing a new layer of activists within the FBU for the future. The FBU has always been at the heart of the fire service and we want to ensure it remains so.

I still see myself as an activist but one who happens to be in the general secretary's position. Obviously, it gives you a different outlook and you do see some things from a different perspective.

One thing I always make clear to people is that they need to make sure they have well-organised branches and committees to make sure whoever is in the leadership has the structures that can control that leadership - whether it's me or anyone else.

I don't take the full salary of the FBU general secretary; though I don't make a great deal of it. I've opened up a separate account and a portion of my wages goes into a campaign fund which gives donations to labour movement causes, campaigns and strikes.

I eventually chose to publicise this because the Sun were about to launch an attack on me concerning certain 'internal FBU battles' related to finance. Whilst some other members still don't quite understand why I do it a lot of members think it's a welcome change to see a general secretary not taking the full amount.


Firefighters give thumbs down to regional control centres

ONLY 3% of fire service personnel surveyed support government plans to shut emergency fire controls and move to a regional-only service according to a new poll.

Firefighters, officers, managers and control staff do not believe the new controls will improve either firefighter safety or the response to incidents.

The poll asked three key questions about the plans to close every fire brigade's emergency fire control and move to regional control rooms.

Asked if they thought regional control rooms would improve firefighters' safety, 95% said NO and only 2% said YES.

When further asked if they believed such a move will improve fire service response to incidents, 95% said NO and 3% said YES.

And finally, when asked if they thought the government should proceed with its plan to move to regional controls, 94% said NO.

Matt Wrack said:

"The poll findings are a body blow for these plans. In some regions you could not fill a phonebox with those who support them.

"Those who really know the fire service and what these proposals mean have given them a massive thumbs down. Those who will have to deal with the consequences of these proposals clearly have little confidence in them."

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 2 February 2006:

Pensions: 'Back down or we strike!'

United mass action can defeat Blair's pensions plans

Firefighters prepare to strike against pensions' robbery

Building a new shop stewards' movement

Healthworkers back RMT and Socialist Party initiatives

2006: Year of opportunity

100 British victims of Blair's war

Political earthquake as Hamas wins election

Public health not private profit

Campaigning against privatisation of schools in Hackney

Lambeth students' successful boycott

Civil servants strike back at Blair's cuts agenda

Post Office: National action needed to defend jobs

Fighting council cuts in Devon

Defence workers battle privatisation


 

Home   |   The Socialist 2 February 2006   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Firefighters:

triangleSurrey firefighters to ballot on Christmas industrial action

triangleMajor funding for flood risk management needed

triangleGrenfell fire inquiry spin deflects blame from establishment

triangleGrenfell inquiry serves to deflect opinion away from the establishment

triangleMarch planned to save Bewdley Fire Station

Strike:

triangleSouth African Airways workers win wage increase after strike action

triangleStrikes: more determined than ever

triangleRoyal Mail court ruling - national reps meeting and solidarity action essential

triangleIt's a strike to ensure the safety of the travelling public

Pensions:

trianglePay, jobs, pensions... Vote for a fighting general secretary

triangleGeneral secretary election: Marion Lloyd - standing for action on members' pay, jobs, pensions and more

triangleUCU ballots - yes to strike action on pensions, pay, workloads and equality

The Socialist:

triangleFight for your future - join the socialists

triangleSelling the Socialist

Socialist:

triangleThe Great Big Socialist Party Quiz 2019

Pension:

trianglePay and pension strike: university staff have had enough

FBU:

triangleSouth Yorkshire defeats fire cuts

Fire service:

triangleStop the fire service cuts

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

4/12/19

Socialist Party

Fight for your future - join the socialists

4/12/19

UCU

Strikes: more determined than ever

4/12/19

Socialist Students

Students and workers united in struggle

4/12/19

South Western Railway

It's a strike to ensure the safety of the travelling public

4/12/19

Surrey

Surrey firefighters to ballot on Christmas industrial action

4/12/19

Hull

Social workers lobby Hull City Council

4/12/19

Climate change

Climate strikes: Students and trade unionists protest together

4/12/19

Socialist Party

Why I joined: "Proud to be a socialist"

4/12/19

Carlisle

Carlisle election meeting: Education - time to make the mega-rich and corporations pay

4/12/19

Council

Workplace news in brief

4/12/19

West Midlands

Solid support for guards on West Midlands Trains

4/12/19

Climate change

Climate change election debate - Corbyn offers best green solutions but needs to go further

4/12/19

The Socialist

Selling the Socialist

4/12/19

Royal Mail

Royal Mail court ruling - national reps meeting and solidarity action essential

4/12/19

RMT

Jared Wood overwhelmingly elected to RMT executive

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


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

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

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: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

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

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999