Socialist Worker

Bosses’ ‘vindictive’ assault on firefighters

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2228

London fire bosses have launched a vicious attack on Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members following their recent strikes.

They have suspended 12 firefighters, including Sian Griffiths—one of the first women firefighters in Britain.

The bosses accuse her of “bullying” a strikebreaker—but she has not been told what the actual allegation is, or who made the complaint.

Sian has been a firefighter for 26 years and is a well-known FBU activist.

London FBU official Paul Embery said, “We are very disturbed to learn of Sian Griffiths’s suspension. She has been a vocal critic of the brigade during the dispute.”

And FBU executive member Ian Leahair said colleagues were “outraged” and were calling for her immediate reinstatement.

Her suspension came just two days after the queen awarded Sian a distinguished service medal.

Sian has been credited with breaking down barriers for female firefighters.

She has received hundreds of messages of support since being escorted out of the brigade’s Southwark training centre on Thursday of last week.

The union says the “spiteful and vindictive” suspension is linked to a bullying complaint Sian has herself lodged against a senior official.

Female colleagues were to lobby the London Fire Authority on Thursday of this week in her support.

The wave of suspensions, together with the fact that some firefighters are still having pay docked over the ongoing action short of a strike, shows how vicious the bosses are.

They are even drawing up plans to cut almost one in six of London’s fire engines in a move that could see hundreds of firefighters made redundant.

The union called off its planned strikes for 5 November to go into arbitration talks.

The renewed spate of attacks shows again that this was a mistake.


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