Union may sue over sack­ing of fire­fighter

Dis­missal of em­ployee is ‘out­ra­geous treat­ment’

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Luke Traynor buck­snews@trin­i­tysouth.co.uk

UNION bosses are con­sid­er­ing whether to sue an ‘out­ra­geous’ fire ser­vice after a fire­fighter was sacked for tak­ing part in a na­tion­allya­greed strike.

Ricky Matthews was dis­missed by Bucks Fire Ser­vice last week­end at the start of a four-day walk­out over pen­sion pay­ments.

Mr Matthews, a re­gional ex­ec­u­tive union mem­ber, took part in the in­dus­trial ac­tion, which be­gan at 6pm on Fri­day and ended on Tues­day.

But he was fired after Buck­ing­hamshire Fire Ser­vice claimed the strike, agreed na­tion­ally, was il­le­gal be­cause new Fire Bri­gade Union (FBU) sub­scrip­tion rules meant they did not have names of who was plan­ning to be on the picket lines, needed to ar­range cover.

Let­ters were last week sent out to FBU em­ploy­ees by Bucks fire bosses, warn­ing they could be pun­ished if they walked out over the week­end.

After Mr Matthews was sacked, the FBU said last week they could not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against the fire ser­vice.

FBU gen­eral sec­re­tary Matt Wrack said: “This is out­ra­geous treat­ment of a long-stand­ing fire­fighter and an out­ra­geous at­tack on the right to or­gan­ise in a trade union.

“The FBU is now plan­ning our re­sponse on a le­gal, po­lit­i­cal and in­dus­trial level. The FBU will stand by our vic­timised mem­ber.”

Mark Jones, chief fire of­fi­cer of Bucks Fire Ser­vice, said all but Mr Matthews at­tended work dur­ing the na­tional strike after they chal­lenged the le­gal­ity of the walk­out.

He added: “We no­ticed that the FBU had failed to com­ply with ba­sic le­gal re­quire­ments.

“The FBU were ap­par­ently sub­se­quently un­able to con­vince their own mem­bers within Buck­ing­hamshire that the strike was legally con­vened. While the na­tional dis­pute went ahead, all but one fire­fighter at Buck­ing­hamshire chose to work nor­mally.

“Our ac­tions are be­ing called dic­ta­tor-like, but all we did was follow the law.”

The FBU said they had in­structed lawyers in case Bucks Fire Ser­vice chal­lenged their strike, but no court in­junc­tion against them was sought.

Union of­fi­cials say that un­der the gov­ern­ment’s pro­pos­als fire­fight­ers will have to work un­til they are 60 in­stead of 55, pay more into their pen­sions and get less in re­tire­ment.

The pro­pos­als will leave fire­fight­ers at risk of dis­missal as their fit­ness de­clines into their 50s, the FBU said.

SACKED: Ricky Matthews

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