Article from the May 2004 edition, Socialist Voice

FBU members want to break Labour link

THE CONFERENCE of the Fire Brigades Union in early May could have taken a major step towards the building of a new party of the working class both here and in Britain.

The Conference was to debate a motion from the Northern Ireland region, to be moved by Regional Secretary and Socialist Party member, Tony Maguire, to break the link with Blair's New Labour Party. This could have opened the way to supporting the building of a new alternative to Labour.

However, in a dramatic development, the Conference was adjourned before the debate was taken. Tony Maguire explained to Socialist Voice what happened:

"Because of a political decision the employers are trying to go back on the agreement that ended our dispute. They are insisting on a clause in our conditions on what happens during stand down time on our night shifts that was not in the agreement.

"The Conference decided to begin a consultation with the members on this. Depending on the response this could end in a new ballot for industrial action. The decision was also taken to adjourn the Conference until June.

"I spoke against this and argued that we should continue because, if we severed the link with Labour, this would strengthen our hand in going back to the members. However for the sake of unity the motion arguing to continue was withdrawn.

"The Labour Party issue will be back on the agenda in June. In fact the current dispute makes it an even more live issue and gives the case for disaffiliation more momentum."

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