BECTU and the Labour Party – where do they go from here?

While there are no FBU officials on Labour policy forums at present, the union has three delegates at the Labour Party conference this year and is hoping to have an FBU rep on the NEC in the future. In addition, in drawing up Labour Party policy on the fire service, senior members of the front bench team sought the views of the FBU and listened to its ideas.

“The FBU represents the vast majority of people in the fire service and is the professional voice of firefighters,” FBU national officer Dave Green said. “It is logical that any political party worth its salt would ask the FBU for its views. This says a lot about what affiliation means — you have a say in the future of your industry.” He points out that for the first time in many years, the 2017 Labour Party manifesto included specific and clear commitments regarding the fire service.

It set out that a Labour government would halt cuts to the fire service, recruit 3,000 new firefighters, review staffing levels and consult on national minimum standards for the service.

The manifesto also committed a future Labour government to reinstating separate governance arrangements for fire and police services and giving the Fire and Rescue Services a statutory duty to coordinate and respond to floods.

However, after gaining the FBU’s affiliation, the Labour Party lost broadcasting and entertainment union BECTU as an affiliate as a result of that union’s merger with the larger Prospect civil service union in January 2017.

BECTU reassured its members that, within Prospect, it will “continue to lobby the political parties on issues and industrial matters of importance to our membership”, and “continue to access the Labour Party leader”.

However, it will no longer be at party conferences, nor will it be able to vote in Labour Party leadership elections. The union pointed out that the Labour Party employs a trade union liaison official to liaise with all trade unions, including other non-affiliates such as Equity and the NUJ.

It said: “The BECTU sector within Prospect will make use of this official and will have access to the Prospect political fund to support our political work.

“Prospect has a well-established record of political lobbying and engagement on behalf of their members and BECTU will work within that context to deliver for members.”

  • This story was first published by Labour Research Department and appears here with permission. Part three, tomorrow, looks at how the Labour Party is working with non-affiliates the NEU and PCS

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