Article from the May 2005 edition, the Socialist
paper of the Socialist Party, the CWI in Ireland.

Left victory in FBU general secretary election

THE DECISIVE victory of Matt Wrack - by 12,883 votes (63.9%) to 7,259 (36.1%) - in the ballot for the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) represents a big step forward for the union and the trade union movement in general.

Matt told The Socialist: "I'm delighted to have been elected. There are a number of challenges on the horizon, not least the battle on pensions and regionalisation of controls.

"Internally too, we have to do everything we can to bring about a fighting and democratic union. I'm looking forward to rolling my sleeves up and getting stuck into the work."

Matt's election should see the FBU take a firmer stand on vital issues like pensions and pay than it has done in the last year. The majority of the union leadership have preferred to attack and witch-hunt their own members rather than preparing a fight on these issues.

At the same time, the union conference was due to discuss the next step after its disaffiliation from Tony Blair's New Labour at its conference last year. A composite resolution - being moved by Socialist Party members from Northern Ireland FBU and seconded by London FBU - was set to call for the union to allow its regional and brigade structures to support candidates and parties outside of Labour. The union's executive council are opposing this democratisation of the union's political fund.

Socialist Party members will be verbally making the call for the FBU, along with other unions like the RMT railworkers' union who are also disaffiliated from Labour, to host a conference where unions can begin taking the first clear steps towards offering trade union backed candidates in elections as a step towards a new mass party of the working class.

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