Woman bids to lead Scots firefighters

Denise Christie. Picture: Comp
Denise Christie. Picture: Comp
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A FEMALE firefighter is bidding to become the first woman elected as leader of one of the most male-dominated trade unions, the Fire Brigades Union Scotland.

Denise Christie is set to be a candidate to lead the union, which represents Scotland’s 6941 firefighters – just 337 of whom are women.

Ms Christie, an Edinburgh-based firefighter for the last 20 years, was among the FBU members nominated for the union’s leadership election, with the result due to be announced in early May.

The 42-year-old, who is the chair for the FBU in Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian and the Borders, is understood to be standing against two male candidates for the full-time leadership position.

She said: “There’s more than one candidate and we have to go through an election, which is in the hands of the FBU membership, so we can’t comment or canvass publicly during the process.”

The election of Ms Christie – a Labour supporter – as Scotland’s senior FBU official, would also be seen as a blow to the SNP, which has been influential in the union amid controversy about being too close to nationalist ministers.

Last year, senior SNP activist John Duffy was ousted as Scottish FBU secretary – the union’s other leadership position – in a contest that saw his rival Stephen Thomson elected.

The move came after Mr Duffy, who is on the SNP list of approved candidates, had faced internal criticism after the Scottish FBU failed to join a strike in England and Wales over a controversial move to ­increase the firefighters’ retirement age from 55 to 60. The SNP’s influence in the union could be further weakened by the election of Ms Christie, who is standing in the contest to succeed the retiring top Scottish FBU official Roddy Robertson, seen as being close to Mr Duffy.

Ms Christie is expected to be one of three candidates in the leadership election, with Strathclyde firefighter Chris McGlone also standing for the position as Scotland’s representative on the FBU’s UK ruling executive body. However, the main opponent of Ms Christie is expected to be Kenny Ross, who is viewed as being close to the pro-independence campaign.