Social media has been used to ‘bully and intimidate’ firefighters who are working during industrial action, it has been announced today as the members of the fire service stage a 24-hour strike.
In a joint statement by Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Fire Brigades Union both parties admit they are concerned that the continuing period of industrial unrest is causing greater tensions between those who choose to work, choose not to work and non-uniformed staff who are involved in organising the service’s resource deployments in preparation for industrial action.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “There is no place in a democratic organisation for anonymous abuse.
“Unfortunately, there have been a number of examples of this relating to the Scottish region of the FBU in recent months. “The Executive Council discussed this at its meeting on May 15 and wished to remind all members of the need to avoid such abusive methods within our union.
“I hope that no members of the FBU are involved in such methods, but would need to remind all members of the seriousness of such behaviour.
“While each case would be considered on its merits, such behaviour is likely to contravene the rules of the union in several ways.
“On behalf of the Executive Council, I would urge all members to conduct their discussion and debate within the structures of the union.
“Everyone is entitled to an opinion and is entitled to express differences, including criticism of officials of the union.
“That does not entitle anybody to engage in anonymous abuse on social media or elsewhere. Such methods are dishonest, disrespectful, cowardly and undemocratic.”
Both organisations insist they condemn “without reservation any form of ridicule, whether by abuse or by innuendo,” of any employee of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service based on an employee’s choice whether or not to participate in industrial action.
Julian Parsons, head of service delivery at Bucks Fire Service and Keith Williams, FBU Brigade Chair said: “Both organisations would also extend this expectation to behaviours on picket lines.
“Until recently there have been no serious concerns as to the behaviour of staff on picket lines.
“We both hope this continues to be the case. We both continue to encourage staff to respect their colleagues who may have to enter fire stations prior to, during and post periods of industrial action for operational reasons.
“Both sides expect our colleagues to be able to carry out their duties without challenge.”