‘Thousands’ expected at rally in support of sacked firefighter

Ricky Matthews
Ricky Matthews

A union says ‘thousands’ of firefighters will take part in a rally through Aylesbury tomorrow (Tuesday) in support of Ricky Matthews, who they claim was unfairly sacked by Bucks Fire and Rescue for taking part in industrial action.

Firefighters are gathering at Oakfield Road in Aylesbury at 11.30am for a march through the town, to be followed by a rally in Kingsbury Square at 1pm.

Bucks Fire and Rescue says Mr Matthews, who worked at Aylesbury Fire Station for more than 17 years, was dismissed after not coming in to work despite a planned strike being called off due to an administrative error on a notice issued by the Fire Brigades Union.

However, Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary said Mr Matthews was sacked ‘for taking part in lawful strike action by a fire service that has a history of bullying and intimidating firefighters and union members’.

The demonstration and rally coincides with a 24-hour strike which runs from 9am on Tuesday to 9am on Wednesday as part of the ongoing row over pensions.

The FBU has called for the public to come out and support them and Mr Matthews.

However, chief fire officer at Bucks Fire and Rescue, Mark Jones, said: “I am sure that the police have enough to do at this time of the year, and I call upon Mr Wrack to call off this demonstration as it wastes taxpayers’ money at a time when budgets are already stretched.

“We have been impressed, however, with the dignity and style with which our own firefighters have made their case during their union’s pension dispute with the Government.

“I remain convinced that the vast majority of our staff are great people who try their best to do a good job.

“More and more of them are choosing not to take strike action each time the FBU calls a strike.

“I truly hope that they do not continue to lose wages for a cause that has been fought so ineptly by their union that they never had a chance of winning.”

He added that the service was confident it had acted properly in dismissing Mr Matthews and that ‘Mr Wrack appears to be trying to shift the blame for a basic administrative error made by the FBU’.

Mr Wrack said: “Ricky Matthews’ sacking is an attack on every firefighter and their right to organise in the workplace to secure better conditions and a better public service.

“Firefighters across the UK stand united with their bullied and victimised colleague and call for Ricky Matthews to be reinstated.”