'THIS VOTE shows just how much we've been ground down by our national leadership.'
That was the response of Neale Williams, a Fire Brigades Union (FBU) representative in north London and an editor of the Red Watch rank and file paper, following the announcement last week that union members had voted not to resist the latest pay insult from the employers.
The vote, by three to one on a 56 percent turnout, was over whether to oppose the employers' decision to hold over half of an agreed 7 percent pay rise until next year.
'No one was in favour of that,' says Neale Williams. 'The issue was instead that voting to reject the employers' move meant opening up a confrontation. And firefighters and control staff have no confidence that the current union leadership would lead such a fight.'
Activists are taking several steps to address the crisis the leadership's handling of the pay dispute has opened up.
There is support for a vote of no confidence in the union's national executive, triggering new elections.
As well as supporting that move many activists are meeting to discuss how to organise at the base of the union to provide a counterweight to the national leadership, whoever occupies those positions.