‘Incompetence’ threatened safety in Milton Keynes, claim fire brigade trade unionists


Firefighters did not return to work when bosses relaxed working restrictions at the eleventh hour during this month’s strikes.

Chief fire officer Mark Jones accused some striking firefighters of acting “illegally”, but trade union bosses blame the fire authority for being “incompetent”.

During the eight-day industrial action earlier this month, senior officers rescinded the non-acceptance of part-shift performance –which had previously meant any firefighters who completed their shifts after striking would not be paid.

But the morning after they were recalled back to work, striking firefighters from eight of the city’s 10 whole-time fire stations did not return.

James Wolfenden, FBU regional secretary for the southern region, says the authority failed to have a robust system in place to recall staff.

He claims there could have been serious consequences for the public’s safety thanks to management’s failings.

He said: “This is an attempt to cover up the catastrophic failings by his management team.

“It is entirely the responsibility of BMKFRS management to have robust systems in place to recall staff and there were no such plans in place which is why so many employees failed to return to work following the cessation of partial performance.

“It was a display of utter incompetence by management that there was no pre-planned process to recall staff.”

Chief fire officer Mark Jones said: “Many firefighters declined to come to work and therefore technically ended up being absent from duty.”

A fire service spokesman confirmed that senior management called the local FBU representative just after 6pm on Friday, August 15, to alert them to the recall, followed by an email.

They said: “This was in keeping with the approach which was very successfully used during the previous set of strikes, when the same relaxation was adopted – and in fact provided slightly more notice than on the previous occasion.”

The fire authority says it is investigating the situation.