About us

Campaign for a Democratic FBU was established in 2020 as a network of Fire Brigades Union members and activists concerned at the erosion of democracy, accountability and transparency in their union.

We believe in the FBU. The union has a proud history of defending firefighters in the workplace. But it is apparent that a serious disconnect has emerged between the union’s leaders and rank-and-file members.

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  • Key decisions are frequently taken without proper consultation with members and local committees
  • A culture of authoritarianism has taken hold which inhibits open debate and dissent
  • Meetings of key national committees are shrouded in secrecy
  • Policies agreed democratically by annual conference (the parliament of the union) are often ‘long grassed’ or ignored completely
  • The union is too often used as a vehicle to advance an unrepresentative political agenda
  • There is a lack of focus on bread-and-butter workplace issues
  • The union’s rule book is misapplied or bypassed for politically-expedient reasons
  • There is a lack of transparency in financial matters

Accountability has broken down at the top of the FBU. Minutes of meetings of the ruling executive council are effectively kept under lock and key, meaning that members and local committees are left in the dark about the workings of the union at the highest levels and are unable to properly hold to account their most senior elected representatives. In a democratic organisation, this is unacceptable.

The FBU leadership has become out-of-touch and complacent with its lengthy occupancy of office. Too often, it is reluctant to defend its decisions publicly or debate with internal critics in an open and honest way. For too long, the leadership has been subjected to only the barest minimum of scrutiny.

Campaign for a Democratic FBU seeks to organise members across the country – both serving and out-of-trade – who oppose the drift towards authoritarianism and wish to see a more democratic, accountable and transparent Fire Brigades Union.

We believe that trade unions are at their most effective when they treat members as welcome participants in their activities and decision-making processes.

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We are for open discussion and debate at all levels of the FBU. We oppose the use of disciplinary measures to stifle dissent.

We endeavour through our communications to provide a steady stream of information to help members better understand what is going on at the highest levels of their union.

We strive to hold the leaders of the FBU to account through legitimate questioning and scrutiny. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Campaign for a Democratic FBU is run by a steering committee of FBU members and activists. The committee’s chair is Grant Mayos, a firefighter in North Wales and former member of the FBU executive council. The committee’s secretary is Paul Embery, a firefighter in London and former member of the FBU executive council.

We are funded entirely by donations from individual supporters. All prospective donors are required to confirm they are members of the FBU before their money is accepted.