Maybe for the first time ever, a trade union has tried to block its members’ access to a website, in a move similar to the Chinese government’s restrictions on Internet access.
The Executive Committee of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has decided to try to shut down the “uk-fire” website, which, in its former guise of “30k” was a key part of holding together the rank and file of the FBU during the pay dispute. Since then, the uk-fire website has been an open discussion forum for firefighters, both FBU members and others.
Now the FBU Executive is claiming that the discussion forum is contrary to the rules and policies of the FBU. Latching on to the fact that a few messages posted on the site are inflammatory or from supporters of the far-right, the FBU is claiming that posting messages on the site, or helping to administer it, is acting in breach of union rules. The Executive’s resolution instructing members and officials not to participate in the site in any way will almost certainly backfire.