War of the hoses: Milton Keynes fireman sacked for strike action

Ricky Matthews
Ricky Matthews

A “victimised and bullied” firefighter plans to fight against the bosses who sacked him after 17 years’ service.

High-ranking FBU member Ricky Matthews from Bletchley was fired for taking part in strike action over Halloween weekend, which the fire service deemed illegal.

Officials from across the country will today meet with the union’s executive council, of which Mr Matthews was one of 13 members, to plan how they will challenge the “outrageous treatment” of the father-of-three.

Speaking exclusively to the Citizen, a close friend of Ricky urged the public to continue supporting the fired fireman who had previously worked at Great Holm station.

He said: “As well as being a great firefighter Ricky is also a great man who has always had strong beliefs and put others before himself.

“He wanted to make sure others’ interests were protected and worked tirelessly to get the best for local firefighters and now on a national level.

“He is staying positive during a very difficult time for him and his family.”

The friend, who asked to remain anonymous, added: “We were all sad to hear he was dismissed. Ricky strongly believed the legal positions of the strike were sound.

“I think it is important now that the people Ricky worked so hard to protect work hard to help and protect him.

“We need to make sure justice is done. What will he do next? He wants to fight this first and foremost. Or as the case may be, have others fight it for him.”

The service claims the FBU gave “improper notification” to the fire authority of its intention to persuade its members to strike and last week challenged the legality of the industrial action.

While the national dispute went ahead, all BFRS firefighters other than Mr Matthews reported to work during the pre-planned four-day strike.

Chief fire officer Mark Jones 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.”

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

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, 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.”

Mr Matthews has tweeted his thanks to his colleagues for their support.

He said: “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.”