For the past few months, FBU Scotland has been embroiled in a series of long-awaited elections.
Currently the Scottish District elections are underway, as well as that for the post of Scottish Regional secretary.
The nomination stage for the elections for Secretaries of the seven new Scottish districts ended recently with five of the positions being filled with individuals being nominated unopposed in their respective districts. In the other two districts however, the elections are now being contested in the form of a workplace ballot.
Given that the 14 district secretaries and chairs will eventually make up two-thirds of the new Scottish Regional committee, the Scottish FBU leaders have been desperately trying to get their own minions into these key positions, in order to maintain control of the committee, thus far with little success.
However, it’s not for the lack of trying, or should we say, threatening and intimidating.
Members who have had the audacity to stand for positions that the Scottish leaders’ want their pals to be in, have come under some disgraceful and quite frankly unacceptable attacks and abuse. They have been subjected to intimidation and threats from Scottish leaders and their cronies, who are trying to pressurise these members into withdrawing.
One individual did buckle under that pressure and withdrew at the last minute from accepting his nomination in district seven however another member stepped in and is now standing for the post of secretary there.
So who are the players in these two elections?
The two Scottish districts in question are numbers six and seven.
District Six covers branches in three SFRS Areas, namely Glasgow South; East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire & Inverclyde; and South Lanarkshire.
The members who received nominations from branches in these areas are Phil McDonald, the current acting Strathclyde Brigade Secretary and Paul Donnelly, the current acting Strathclyde Brigade Chair.
The Scottish FBU leaders have been doing everything they can to get their man elected – Paul Donnelly.
For those who do not know Paul Donnelly, he is a very willing and compliant long-standing supporter of the Scottish FBU leaders.
He was one of the officials who left in the middle of the Strathclyde Mass Meeting last November, to go to Celtic Park to enjoy some much needed corporate hospitality, despite over a hundred members taking the time and effort to attend the meeting, not to mention the General Secretary who had travelled all the way from London to be there.
Phil McDonald has been getting pressurised, side-tracked, compromised and even threatened. He has been working extremely hard to try to continue to properly and effectively represent members in Strathclyde, but has been getting continuously undermined by the Scottish FBU leaders in a pathetic attempt to make him look bad.
Their intimidation hasn’t worked, so they have now resorted to plain old cheating!
Ballot papers were issued to branches in district six last week. That was the first time the ballot papers had been seen, despite the fact that all of the candidates should have been given a draft copy for approval prior to them being printed and issued.
It has transpired that the ballot paper has been significantly tampered with by John Duffy OBE, the Scottish secretary, who is responsible for running the election.
Firstly, in the section that lists a candidates’ positions held, the position of “Acting Strathclyde Brigade Secretary”, a position that Mr McDonald currently holds, has been removed and replaced with the position of “Brigade Organiser”, a post that Mr McDonald doesn’t hold!
Interestingly, Paul Donnelly’s current position of “Acting Strathclyde Brigade Chair” has been kept in his list.
It gets worse. When Mr McDonald submitted his election address, it was laid out neatly, with titles, proper spacing between paragraphs and clear listed bullet points. However, when it found its way onto the ballot paper, all of those elements had been removed, with the wording all clumped together, leaving the address looking jumbled and unstructured.
Unsurprisingly, by comparison, the election address of Mr Donnelly is very neat and tidy and well laid out and structured with proper spacing, etc.
On top of all of that, Mr Donnelly makes claim in his election address that he was responsible for negotiating such agreements as an ARA payment for members in East Kilbride fire station who undertake line rescue duties and an instructors’ allowance for instructors at the new training centre in Cambuslang. All false!
This interference in the information contained on the ballot paper is a blatant and unashamed attempt to try to make Mr McDonald look bad in the eyes of FBU members, and to make Mr Donnelly look good by ensuring his election address looks better than Mr McDonald’s and by giving him credit for issues he had no part in.
District Seven covers branches in three SFRS Areas, namely East Ayrshire, North & South Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway.
The members who received nominations from branches in these areas are Ian Bryden, a long-standing and experienced member in Ayrshire, and Sami Chaudhry, the current D&G Brigade Secretary.
As with district six, the Scottish leaders have been doing everything they can to get their man elected in district seven – Sami Chaudhry.
Readers of this Blog will be well aware of Mr Chaudhry.
It is he who has been supporting SFRS management and advocating a reduction in the establishment levels in the Strathclyde area, to 5&4, which would see the loss of hundreds of jobs, as well as compromising the safety of firefighters and the public alike.
It is he who believes that ARA payments to members who are working additional duties beyond those contained within their role map, should be taken from them.
It is he who has given the Scottish FBU leaders his continued full support, including defending the decision to close five Fire Control rooms and supporting the detrimental changes to officers’ duty system.
Similar to their shenanigans in the district six election process, the Scottish FBU leaders and their cronies have been attempting to intimidate and undermine the candidacy of Ian Bryden, by levelling some outrageous and very personal attacks on him. Thankfully Mr Bryden, a well known and well respected member in Ayrshire, is having none of it and remains determined to contest the election to the end.
As if the intimidation of candidates and the tampering with ballot papers isn’t bad enough, in both elections the Scottish FBU leaders are now trying to further manipulate the process, as they have unilaterally decided to make a fundamental change to how the ballot is conducted in the workplace.
In workplace ballots, ballot papers are distributed to each branch, where the branch official, or designated member, issues the ballot papers to each branch member for them to vote. Each ballot paper is then placed in an individual envelope and returned to the branch official or designated member.
When all branch members have had the opportunity to vote, and all of their ballot papers have been completed, the branch official or designated member, is then responsible for returning all of the branch’s ballot papers in a single collective submission, to the Scottish Regional secretary.
However, instead of collectively returning the ballot papers from each branch, the Scottish FBU leaders have now decided that individual ballot papers are to be returned to the Scottish Regional offices by each individual member by post, using freepost envelopes.
This is unheard of in the history of workplace ballots.
Despite this postal element being introduced, branch members can still decide to return their ballot papers in the traditional manner, via the branch official or designated member.
Given that the Scottish FBU leaders have failed to, or refused to detail what happens to the ballot papers when they are returned to the Union offices in this manner, we strongly advice that all members return them on a collective basis, via their branch official or designation member.
As well as their disgraceful behaviour in the district elections, they are adopting similar tactics in the election for the post of Scottish Regional secretary. Nominations for this election, an election they tried to cancel, have begun.
Mr OBE is being challenged by a very competent, experienced and well respected official, Stevie Thompson, who is currently the brigade secretary in Central. Mr Thompson is being rubbished by the Scottish FBU leaders, despite his obvious abilities.
The actions of the Scottish FBU leaders in both of these election processes are a clear indication of how desperate they have become . They can see their power and control of the Union in Scotland slipping away from them and they are trying every sneaky underhand trick in the book to try to cling on to their corrupt regime.
The opportunity for Scottish FBU members to completely change their Union for the better has never been better than it is now.
A new group of district officials, who will properly reflect the views, wants, needs, concerns and aspirations of their members, as well as challenge the cuts agenda of SFRS management and the Scottish Government, would transform the Scottish Regional committee and give members a much needed say in the future of their own pay & conditions and the fire service in general.
In the next 12 months, there is also the very real opportunity to put in place new Scottish FBU leaders. One of them is already gone (Paul Wilson). Mr OBE is likely to be next. Following them, elections for the positions of Scottish Regional chair and EC member for Scotland early next year, could see Alan Paterson and Roddy Robertson finally removed.
It has been decades since Scottish FBU members have been presented with such an opportunity to completely re-shape and change the direction of their Union.
It’s an opportunity not to be missed.