An attempt to rejuvenate the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in London has led to a restructuring and an election for the post of borough secretary in Kensington and Chelsea.
Having recently transferred into the borough it was obvious to me that union organisation was poor, with many of the stations not even having a rep.
I decided to stand in the election in the hope that a proper contest could be used to breathe life back into the organisation.
After a three week campaign, in which I tried to draw as many people as possible into organising ballots at their stations, I won the election by 95 votes to 62.
In my election address I stressed the need for firefighters to fight on economic and political issues, challenge discrimination at work and push our union to play a role in building a wider socialist opposition to Labour.
Rather than relying on the “old boy” network, I went out to speak to as many watches as I could.
I talked to them about the need to rebuild organisation and how they all had a role to play in strengthening the union.
I argued for a more democratic approach and a deepening of organisation so that every watch would have a rep and every station its own mini committee.
I explained to people how the attacks we face are part of a larger agenda that sees wages kept down and pensions attacked while billions are spent on the war and bailing out Northern Rock.
By campaigning from the bottom up, we have already begun the process of rebuilding confidence and organisation.
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