“We will stand by our victimised member”, say Fire Brigades Union

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The “outrageous treatment” of a long-standing Milton Keynes firefighter sacked over the weekend has led the Fire Brigades Union to challenge claims of “victimisation”.

Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire and Rescue Service claim Ricky Matthews chose to take “illegal strike action” and was therefore dismissed for failing to attend work during a four-day strike last week.

Ricky Matthews

Ricky Matthews

But the FBU say this is “utter rubbish” and maintain their strike action was lawful.

Today, Ricky Matthews tweeted: “Thank you so much for your overwhelming messages support this weekend.

“I cannot put into words how much it means to me and my family.”

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Unfortunately, there has been a particular aggressive and hostile response from the fire and rescue authority in Bucks resulting in one of our executive council members, Ricky Matthews, being informed that he has been summarily dismissed.

“The Chief Fire Officer and his team have claimed that our call to strike was not lawful. This is utter rubbish. Employers are able to challenge unions in court. We were awaiting such a challenge, haven taken legal advice, and had a QC ready to defend our case.

“Bucks Fire and Rescue Authority did not attempt to take us to court or seek an injunction. This demonstrates very clearly that their claims and their case are without basis.

“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.”

Yesterday the fire service challenged the legality of the union’s industrial action notice and although the national dispute went ahead - all but one firefighter at BFRS - now officially named as Ricky Matthews - chose to work normally.

In a joint statement Mark Jones, chief fire officer of Bucks Fire & Rescue Service and chief executive of Bucks & MK Fire Authority said: “Our actions are being called dictator-like, but all we did was follow the law. “We made our staff aware of our view that the action they were being encouraged to take might not be legal - what responsible employer would do less?

“We do find it galling that ill-informed commentators now seek to depict this as a managerial pressure tactic when it has clearly been the administrative incompetence of the FBU that has caused the current situation.”

The union’s executive will meet again on Thursday to hear reports from the latest strike action and address the steps needed to challenge the alleged “victimisation” in Buckinghamshire.