Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brian Coleman: worst chair of fire authority ever

Further to my post earlier, as fire fighters protested outside today's London fire Authority meeting London Assembly members quizzed Brian Coleman on the violence against FBU pickets during the recent strike days.

I spoke to an FBU spokeswoman about the protest who told me that "the lobby was very successful. Around 20 women fire fighters, including Sian with her Queen's Fire Service Medal for distinguished service, leafleted Assembly Members as they went in."

I asked her about the violence on the picket line and she said that "The response was so shocking when there were two arrests for the violence, but no pickets, yet we're the ones being accused of violence. The Fire Authority has a duty of care towards its employees but doesn't seem to care that two people were injured."

When I asked about Sian's case she said that "Sain was suspended for bullying and harassment just before she was due to attend an Armistice Day memorial service in uniform. Yet there's a double standard here because normally if there are accusations like this people continue to work, although they might be moved, but they've taken Sian off duty.

"Sian has a long record of history of supporting other women fire fighters so to accuse her of harassment when she has stuck up for so many others is galling. Mind you they weren't able to suspend her before she was due to receive her medal from the Queen, because you don't mess with the monarch do you?"

Assembly Member Darren Johnson asked Brian Coleman in the meeting what action he was intending to take on the violence. Here's the verbatim report of the exchange;

"Here is Brian Coleman's response to the formal question I tabled at today's Fire Authority meeting, requesting an investigation into injuries to firefighters exercising their legal right to strike.

"(i) Question 257 from Councillor Darren Johnson AM (Green Party): Will the Chairman request the Commissioner undertakes a formal investigation, including an independent element, of the following reported incidents during industrial action on 1 November:

"a) firefighter hit by a car at Croydon Fire Station, and withholding of first aid equipment;

"b) FBU London representative and firefighter hit by fire engines at Southwark Fire Station

"And will the Chairman ensure that the findings of such an investigation are published?

"Reply from Chairman: No."
What a disgrace.

Violence against fire-fighters, at fire stations, during a perfectly legal union activity which resulted in arrests (but no suspensions) and he will neither investigate nor publish any findings on these incidents. Brian Coleman - worst chair of the Fire Authority ever?

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