The Times reports today that
Eleven Merseyside firefighters who were dismissed from their union for joining a scheme to give first aid to casualties during call-outs were not treated unlawfully, an employment panel ruled. The Fire Brigades Union is opposed to “co-responding” schemes in which firemen are asked to support paramedics.While I do not question the right of a free association to exclude members if it sees fit, I think that this reflects poorly on the Fire Brigades Union.
Training firefighters to provide First Aid to casualties saves lives, a fact that should trump the union’s Carry On At Your Convenience-style attitude to their members taking on roles outside their core job description.
That the union opposes this is a shame, but to dismiss members of the union who wish to participate in the scheme and who therefore demur from the union’s guidance suggests a controlling mindset that epitomises the unswerving loyalty to the centre that many old-style socialist organisations expect.
These Merseyside firefighters should have been free to choose whether to participate on the programme or not, without fear of sanction from colleagues or the union executive – which is supposed to serve its members.