FBU general secretary under pressure to come clean after London regional committee demands full disclosure on “hush money” payments

WORD REACHES THIS blog via sources in the London region of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) that the executive council member for that region, Dave Shek, has written to the general secretary, Matt Wrack, to demand full disclosure of all information relating to secret exit payments and gagging clauses issued to departing members of the union’s staff.

The letter from Shek, which was sent on behalf of the London regional committee, is the latest development in the ongoing “hush money” scandal, which centres on the discovery that a string of the FBU’s employees, including at least three national officers, received confidential pay-offs in return for signing non-disclosure agreements after complaining of mistreatment. The affair has been reported in several editions of Private Eye magazine.

In a further twist, and as this blog revealed last week, someone in the union appears to have falsified important financial statements in an attempt to conceal the payments (one of over £100,000) to national officers.

In his letter, which was copied to all members of his regional committee and has been seen by this blog, Shek informs Wrack that he has been “mandated by the London regional committee to seek certain information from head office relating to severance payments made to employees of the union and any associated non-disclosure agreements that were reached with these employees”. He then asks to be provided with answers to the following questions:

1. Since May 2005 [the month and year Wrack took office as general secretary], how many employees have left the union with a settlement agreement linked to their departure?

2. In how many of these cases was a non-disclosure agreement reached?

3. What was the total financial cost to the union in reaching these settlement agreements?

Given the murky business with the misleading financial statements, as well as the fact that the union’s leadership recently refused a request by a member to inspect the accounting records detailing the payment made to one of the former national officers (a refusal which breaches the law), it seems plain that some within the upper echelons of the organisation are desperate to prevent any information relating to the pay-offs and gagging clauses filtering down to members.

Shek’s letter will not therefore have been well-received at the union’s head office, for it leaves the general secretary now forced to choose between denying a legitimate request for information from a member of the union’s ruling executive council acting on a mandate from his regional committee (a move that would surely be inconceivable, even for this leadership) and finally coming clean about the extent to which members’ money has been used to buy the silence of employees of the union.    

This blog shall await further developments with interest, as, no doubt, will many FBU members.

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