Union may sue over sacking of firefighter
Dismissal of employee is ‘outrageous treatment’
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