I wrote to the Sunday Telegraph, after it attacked our officials’ facility time for union duties. This is what they published (16 October):
You report that more than £1 million was spent on trade union release in the fire service. But no local Fire Brigades Union (FBU) official would recognise this as a “gravy train”. Their work relates to local fire safety plans, the fire service’s response to major incidents such as flooding, fire safety task groups and investigations into incidents in which firefighters have been badly injured or killed.
Regarding the disastrous Fire Control Project which failed at a cost to the taxpayer of nearly £500 million, some of our “union work” consisted of FBU officials trying to persuade the last government what a mess they were making. That was cheap advice which, if heeded, would have saved a fortune.
The FBU pays a fair share of the cost of release for necessary union duties, and public and firefighter safety have improved as a result of this work.