Categories: Featured News
Tags: FBU

Fire Brigades Union wins landmark case in Employment Appeals Tribunal


Share this content


The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has emerged victorious in a significant landmark case at the Employment Appeals Tribunal, following a judgement that will have wider implications for the way that trade unions function. The case involved the former Executive Council member, Paul Embery, who had previously been ruled to have been unfairly dismissed from his role.

However, in the appeal brought by the FBU, it was argued that as an elected lay official, Embery could not have been unfairly dismissed because he was not an employee of the union. This was a crucial point of principle, as it sought to reinforce the distinction between union staff and lay officials who are part of a different, elected structure within the union. Lay officials are accountable to the Executive Council and other elected bodies, rather than to the staffing structures of the union.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal categorically overturned and substituted the original ruling, in a highly unusual move that was celebrated as a significant legal win for the FBU. The judgement effectively upholds the principle that lay officials are not union employees, and sets an important precedent for future cases.

Categorically overturned

The FBU is one of the UK’s largest and most influential trade unions, representing firefighters and other workers in the fire and rescue service. The union is dedicated to upholding the rights and interests of its members, and has a long history of campaigning for improved working conditions, fair pay and better safety standards.

Commenting on the outcome of the case, FBU National Officer Mark Rowe said: “The Fire Brigades Union welcomes this judgement, which vindicates our arguments and actions in this case. The ruling will come as a relief not only to the FBU but to the whole trade union movement. It is vital that the distinction between staff and officials is preserved. Lay officials are the elected leadership and representatives of the union, not its employees. Treating lay officials as employees would have had serious implications, both in principle and in practice.”

Rowe went on to express the hope that the judgement would put an end to the legal dispute over Paul Embery’s time as an official of the union, which had been subject to democratically established rules and processes. “The Fire Brigades Union looks forward to getting on with what we do best – fighting for our members’ interests,” he said.

IFSJ Comment

Overall, the FBU’s victory at the Employment Appeals Tribunal is likely to be a significant boost for the union and for the wider trade union movement, as it seeks to uphold the rights and interests of its members and ensure that they are treated fairly and equitably.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox