Concern at intimidation of firefighters over strikes

Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue HQ and Aylesbury Fire Station, Stocklake, Aylesbury
Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue HQ and Aylesbury Fire Station, Stocklake, Aylesbury

As the latest strike by firefighters in Bucks gets underway, the county’s fire service has said it condemns the use of social media to intimidate staff over their decision about whether to strike or not.

In a joint statement issued with the National Fire Brigades Union, Bucks Fire and Rescue Service says it is important to respect individuals’ decisions in relation to strike action.

A fire service spokesman said: “Both Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service and the Fire Brigades Union recognise that there has been an increased use of social media to create atmospheres of bullying and intimidation.

“This causes tremendous concern for both organisations, who recognise the importance of respecting individuals’ decisions in relation to the taking of industrial action.

“Both organisations 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.

“We 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.

“We would also extend this expectation to behaviour 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.”

The latest walkout began at 9am this morning and will last for 24 hours.

It is the longest strike yet in the three year dispute and it also coincides with the start of the football World Cup in Brazil.

The dispute centres around plans by MPs to raise firefighters’ retirement ages to 60 while also increasing their pension contributions.