Fire chief claims family targeted

OBSCENE material was posted to the young children of Essex's chief fire officer shortly after the FBU began its latest round of industrial action, it was claimed yesterday.

Roddy Ashworth

OBSCENE material was posted to the young children of Essex's chief fire officer shortly after the FBU began its latest round of industrial action, it was claimed yesterday.

But officials last night condemned the actions and insisted they were unaware of any of their members targeting the family of David Johnson.

Mr Johnson made the allegation while discussing the current dispute with the FBU, which centres around changes in shift patterns, staff numbers and frontline equipment which were put into practice in October last year.


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After balloting members the union agreed to take action “short of strike action,” including an overtime ban and a refusal to “act up”.

He claimed that after the FBU action began in August last year the relationship between the union and management was particularly strained.

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“At the start of the dispute it was very acrimonious,” he said.

“For example, we had instances of obscene and offensive material about myself and members of my team being put up on fire stations.

“And at one stage extreme obscene and offensive material was sent through the post to my eight-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son at home, which I consider wholly inappropriate and unacceptable for anyone to do.”

“Since then things have calmed down a little.”

Mr Johnson went on to say that he had recently been asked by Essex Fire Authority to prepare a report assessing the impact of the strike.

“As it stands at the moment our availability of appliances remains at about 98% to 100%, and the service has saved in the region of about �330,000 directly as a result of the action the FBU has asked its members to take,” he said.

He added that management had written to the FBU asking them to engage in talks.

“I don't know what the FBU's reaction is going to be to this report - we have written to them time and time again to sit down and talk to us and resolve this dispute.

“We wrote to them again at the start of January. We haven't heard a stitch from them since.

“It is getting to the stage where either they don't know how to resolve the dispute or they won't resolve the dispute.”

Mick Rogers, Essex FBU membership secretary and firefighter at Colchester, said he was not aware of any obscene material aimed at Mr Johnson or members of his family.

“It is the first I have heard of it,” he said. “I would like to see evidence that it has come from an FBU member. If it did then we would be just as keen as he [Mr Johnson] is to make sure it is dealt with in the proper manner.

“As regards offensive material put up at fire stations, I haven't seen anything of that sort myself. To the best of my knowledge nothing has come out from the FBU that we would term to be in any way offensive - that's not the way we do business at all.”

His comments were echoed by regional chairman Adrian Clarke who said: “There is no evidence to suggest that any offensive material has come from the FBU.”

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