Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

October 14, 2009 07:12 ET

South Yorkshire Firefighters Give a Massive Vote of No Confidence in the Chief Fire Officer and His Principal Management Team and Feel That There Is a Bullying Culture Within SYFRS

The Fire Brigades Union responds by initiating a 'United Against Bullying Campaign'

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Oct. 14, 2009) - In response to issues raised by its members South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union carried out a confidential survey to highlight the attitude of the brigade leadership team towards FBU members working in SYFRA.

This anonymous survey of all FBU members, encompassing all roles, was overseen by a well respected independent scrutineer and displayed some quite astonishing and distressing results. In the short time that the survey was run almost 2/3rds of FBU members felt strongly enough about the issue to respond.

The worrying aspect of the survey however is that;

  • 97% of the responders felt that principal management display, or have displayed, behaviour that is confrontational, dismissive or disrespectful
  • 97% of the responders felt that principal managers have created a workplace built on a culture of threats, intimidation and fear, where employees no longer feel able to express their true opinions without fear of retribution
  • The survey also indicated that 96% of responders feel that managers are subject to stressful working environments including unreasonable workloads and deadlines
  • To conclude 97% of responders supported a resolution declaring a vote of no confidence in SYFRA's principal management team.

The FBU feel that the results of this independently administrated survey show an alarming perception of bullying and harassment within the FBU members working in SYFRA. It is extremely worrying that this perceived behaviour is being allowed to continue despite SYFRS having a code of conduct for all employees.

The SYFRS code of conduct for employees outlines the following;

EMPLOYEE RIGHTS

  • All employees have the right to be treated with dignity, in a fair and transparent manner and with respect for their individual beliefs, culture, values, sexuality and ethnic origin.
  • All employees have the right to be protected from harassment, bullying and unwelcome conduct from others.
  • All employees have the right to challenge any perceived inappropriate conduct by other employees.

EMPLOYEE RESPONSIBILITIES

  • To challenge inappropriate conduct or impropriety and to follow procedures for raising any concerns.

Large numbers of FBU members have highlighted, through this confidential survey that they feel they are working in a workplace that is built upon a culture of threats, intimidation and fear and that they are no longer able to express their true opinions without fear of retribution.

To assist members to comply with the code of practice the FBU has organised a United Against Bullying campaign where members will be asked to wear a badge highlighting that they support a workplace free of threats, intimidation and fear. These badges will be available to all FBU members in South Yorkshire and should be worn at work to mark a challenge to inappropriate conduct or impropriety. Unfortunately 97% of survey responders felt that they could not express their true feelings through the normal procedures for fear of retribution so this show of an FBU 'United Against Bullying' is necessary.

The FBU has written to the Chief Fire Officer Mark Smitherman, Fire Authority members and local MPs asking them to support this challenge and requesting urgent talks to address this situation.

Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Secretary Ian Murray explained;

"The FBU accept that the issues raised are more complicated because many of the concerns may arise because of the very people we want to discuss this with, so we have had to also try and involve elected Fire Authority members in these talks. A vote of no confidence in the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service's management team that was initiated on a fire station was supported by a massive 97% of FBU members who responded to this survey, which included firefighters and middle managers. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. Wearing a badge is only the start, we have written to senior management and requested that they support this challenge and work with us on this issue.

"Not surprisingly SY management has responded by threatening to discipline any FBU member who dared to wear these badges at work. Without even meeting with the FBU a memorandum was sent to all staff informing members that they are contravening service policies by wearing a badge that does not relate to British Fire Service organisations. The badge simply says 'South Yorkshire FBU – United Against Bullying' and does not attempt to cause any situation except asking FBU members to use their 'right to challenge any perceived inappropriate conduct by other employees'

"The FBU cannot stand by and ignore the fact that members have indicated that they are working in an environment where they feel principal managers have created a workplace built on a culture of threats, intimidation and fear, where employees no longer feel able to express their true opinions without fear of retribution.

This immediate threat has shown how management reacts when someone tries to challenge unacceptable behaviour.

"Firefighters don't have the confidence in the usual process for reporting bullying and extreme situations call for extreme measures".

Contact Information

  • Media contacts:
    Ian Murray
    Regional Secretary
    07967 103345
    or
    Jeremy Pagan
    EC Member
    07977 931086