London firefighter Mick Shaw has been elected unopposed as the new president of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
Ruth Winters, the FBU’s previous president, unexpectedly pulled out of the election. She said the president “should actually have the mass support of the membership and that is not what the nomination results show”.
FBU activists say Ruth Winters was closely associated with the previous leadership of the union, including former general secretary Andy Gilchrist. In particular, she played a key role on the negotiating team during the FBU’s 2002-3 national strike over pay. Firefighters are still angry at the outcome of that dispute.
Mick Shaw has been the London rep on the FBU’s executive council for the past ten years, and his elevation to president means there will be elections for his replacement.
One political issue in these elections is the question of whether minority sections of the FBU – such as black sections and women’s sections – should be stripped of their voting rights on the executive committee.
Socialist Worker supporters in the FBU oppose any such move. It would be seen as divisive and could further marginalise minorities within the fire service.