FBU strike update: Statement from Chief Fire Officer

Mon 3 Nov, 2014

Statement from Mark Jones, Chief Fire Officer of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service and Chief Executive of Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority

All crews in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes have been working normally throughout the period of national strike action called by the Fire Brigades Union, which had called for a four-day strike from 6pm on Friday 31 October to 6pm on Tuesday 4 November.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service challenged the legality of the FBU's strike notice, and advised our FBU members to seek clarification from their own union. It is understood that firefighters asked their union to guarantee that they would be protected if they went on strike.

After receiving notification of the strike action, we noticed that the FBU had failed to comply with basic legal requirements. The FBU were apparently subsequently unable to convince their own members within Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service that the strike was legally convened. While the national dispute went ahead, all but one firefighter at Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service chose to work normally. 

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? The fact that their union was unwilling or unable to provide sufficient reassurance to them seems to have caused them not to strike. 

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. 

One staff member chose to take illegal strike action and was subsequently dismissed for failing to attend work. All other members of staff have been turning up for work as normal.  

We are delighted that crews have chosen to work and will not lose money over this period, and that those we serve and protect received the normal level of fire cover that they pay for.

Related page: Strike update: Almost 'business as usual'