FBU

Workers, trade unions and climate politics

Calvin Lawson - an RMT rep in Newcastle, part of the RMT Environmental Action Group, and co-lead on trade union strategy for Labour for a Green New Deal - spoke to Solidarity. Our trade union group within Labour for a Green New Deal is working with local groups to establish union link officers who can connect with trades councils, union branches and so on to support workers’ struggles but also take up environmental questions. We’ve organised some roadshows to encourage discussion and engagement, for instance in the North East where I’m based and working with Unison in the Manchester area. That...

Making buildings safe in future

Jon Wharnsby, North East London area secretary for the Fire Brigades Union, spoke to Solidarity. Under the cover of resolving the issue of dangerous cladding, the Tories are hitting working-class people twice over. On one hand, there’s an arbitrary limit of 18m on the height of buildings for which grants will be available. Home-owners in buildings below that will have to take out thousands in government loans. On the other hand they’re paying out £3.5bn to companies to do the work on taller buildings, so we’re all paying as tax-payers too. There will be a levy on developers but it will only...

FBU calls for Labour recall conference

The Fire Brigades Union is calling for an emergency recall Labour Party conference to protect democracy in the party. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack announced the call at an online meeting on 7 February attended by over 400 Labour Party people and organised to demand the reinstatement of dozens of Constituency and branch Labour Party officers. The dozens were suspended for allowing debate on critical motions following Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension, reinstatement, and withdrawal of the whip. Other speakers included Tony Kearns, deputy general secretary of the post and telecom union CWU, and Ian...

Fire service bosses scrap safe-working deal

Utterly disgracefully, fire and rescue service employers have unilaterally terminated an agreement with the FBU that allowed firefighters to safely assist our communities during the pandemic. It’s not just a matter of keeping our normal service running, so we can deal with fires, floods and other hazards safely. The agreement they are trying to torpedo is what has enabled us to perform additional tasks more directly related to Covid-19. Virtually since the start of the pandemic firefighters have volunteered to drive ambulances and assist paramedics, help with patient transfer, deliver packages...

Nationalism or class solidarity?

Fire Brigades Union activist and National Officer Riccardo la Torre spoke to Sacha Ismail. *** Yesterday we had “Victory in Europe” day, and a lot of nationalism. What are your thoughts on it? Well, first off I’m angry that workers are dying because they’re at work and aren’t given proper protection, and yet the same “leaders” responsible want us waving Union Jacks. There’s immediate reasons to be angry too, because the day itself created a lot of unsafe conditions. I’ve seen blokes out selling Union Jacks and pictures of the Queen – which makes the political agenda of it all pretty clear, but...

The Covid-19 crisis and the right to strike

Socially distanced picket line by Royal Mail workers. Since the Covid-19 crisis hit, many workers, including those working in hospitals, libraries, construction and in the postal service, have taken unofficial industrial action to stand up for themselves and for safety. In the face of a government disastrously dragging its feet and putting profits above lives, these actions highlight the central role of workers’ struggles in defending rights, winning new ones and changing society. During this crisis, employers have not suspended their organisation or paused their struggle against workers. The...

No question of "national unity" government!

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack spoke to Sacha Ismail. How should the labour movement be responding to the Covid-19 crisis? In terms of trade union structures, there are real challenges in re-establishing basic functioning in this situation. We’ve had to play catch up to re-establish core functioning and communication under the lockdown. Certainly in the FBU it’s taken us a couple of weeks to get on top of the basics, even things like how do you take a vote properly in an online meeting. Nevertheless, unions need to have the political will to step up. The FBU has been very...

Industrial news in brief

UCU ballot opens University staff belonging to UCU are being balloted for strike action this autumn over pay equality, job security, workload and pay deflation. Working conditions in higher education have been deteriorating. The gender pay gap is over 15%; over 100,000 staff across the sector are on fixed-term contracts; academic staff work over 50 hours in a typical week; and in the past ten years pay has declined by 20% in real terms. In 2018 an impressive strike forced pre-92 universities to back down on massive pension cuts, but since then employers have refused to compromise and now they...

Industrial news in brief

Tube union RMT suspended strikes planned by drivers on London Underground’s Central and Victoria Lines on 3-4 September, after bosses made a number of concessions. The issues at the heart of the dispute include authoritarian management culture on both lines, and driver numbers on the Central Line particularly. The union remains in dispute and activists say strikes should be reinstated if management renege on agreements. Plans for TUC congress At the time of writing discussions are taking place among labour movement anti-coup people about activities at the 2019 TUC Congress (8-11 September, in...

Industrial news in brief

Tube workers fight job cuts Tube workers are currently voting in an industrial action ballot, as the RMT union pushes back against job cuts proposed as part of the so-called “Transformation” process. Nearly 2,000 workers are being balloted, including workers in engineering, signals, electrical, track, the London Underground Control Centre, and the Emergency Response Unit. “Transformation”, a sweeping restructure and job cuts plan, has already led to admin workers seeing their numbers slashed. The current phase of the plan includes the outsourcing of waste collection workers who are currently...

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