Penny Mourdant says union’s behaviour is a “barrier to change”
Fire minister Penny Mourdant has accused the FBU of bullying people during their long-running strike campaign.
The union has been campaigning against what is describes as the government’s “unfair, unaffordable and unworkable pension scheme” which, the union says, will see firefighters face a stark choice of either being sacked or a severely reduced pension if they fail fitness tests.
In a speech to the Local Government Association fire conference in Gateshead on Tuesday, Penny Mourdant hit back, saying: “One elected member [councillor or MP], who had recently been threatened by the Fire Brigades Union was so terrified at the consequences for their family on the occasion they did have a house fire that, having dialled 999 and depositing their family outside their home, then re-entered the blazing building and hid to prevent repercussions to their loved ones.
“I doubt very much that any of those firefighters who turned up on that shout would have acted with anything but the professionalism we would expect, but that persons contact with their fire and rescue service had so convinced them otherwise that they were prepared to take such a great risk to their personal safety.”
She continued: “The frequency of industrial action and the venom it has brought in pockets of the service has affected both its reputation and stamped on theses fault lines within it. Minorities have suffered most.
“Whether these stories are told by firefighters, support staff, management, politicians or the public they are heart-breaking. Not just because of the suffering they describe but because we all know they are not representative of the service.
“One firefighter told me at the start of my tenure, ‘I find it so sad how the reputation of the service has been damaged. When we are out and about the kids wave to us, but the parents just glare’.
“It is a minority of the service which perpetrates this, but their impact on its good running and its reputation is disproportionate and highly damaging. It must end.
“Such behaviour is a barrier to change, a barrier to our workforce thriving, a barrier to us serving our communities.”
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