Fire boss asks for protest to be called off: ‘I am sure police have enough to do’

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Protesting firefighters defending their sacked colleague have been asked to call off tomorrow’s march by chief fire officer Mark Jones.

High-ranking FBU member Ricky Matthews from Bletchley was dismissed for “gross misconduct” by Bucks & Milton Keynes Fire and Rescue after 17 years’ service.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, is now calling on all firefighters to get behind Mr Matthews by taking part in a demonstration in Aylesbury tomorrow.

He said: “This is an attack on all of us. It is an attack made by an employer which has consistently sought to undermine trade unionism in Buckinghamshire.

“They have done this by an excessive use of discipline and by using the most extreme disciplinary awards for the most trivial of accusations.

“This is clearly an attempt to create a climate of fear and intimidation amongst Buckinghamshire firefighters.

“An injury to one is an injury to all. We must all unite to defend Ricky.”

In an online video last week, Mr Wrack said Bucks Fire & Rescue Service would have taken the FBU to court if it really thought the strike was unlawful.

In response to claims of “victimisation” by BFRS, chief fire officer Mark Jones said his service “defend people who are being bullied and challenge the bullies”. 
He said: “I am sure that the police have enough to do this time of the year, and I call upon Mr Wrack to call off this demonstration as it wastes taxpayers’ money at a time when budgets are already stretched.

“We have been impressed, however, with the dignity and style with which our own firefighters have made their case during their union’s pension dispute with the Government.

“More and more of them are choosing not to take strike action each time the FBU calls a strike. I truly hope that they do not continue to lose wages for a cause that has been fought so ineptly by their union that they never had a chance of winning.”

The march and rally will begin at Oakfield Road Park at 11.30am before going through Aylesbury town centre.