Protest at London Fire Brigade HQ over suspension of former Milwall and Shadwell firefighter

Firefighters, friends and family protested outside London Fire Brigade (LFB) headquarters today against the suspension of a former Shadwell and Milwall station manager.

Sian Griffiths, 50, was suspended from the LFB last Thursday (November 18) just two days after being awarded a medal from the Queen at Buckingham Palace for distinguished service.

Sian said her suspension is over an allegation of harassment and bullying related to the ongoing industrial dispute over shift patterns, but she hasn’t been given any further details of the case brought against her.

She is following her own official grievance claim against a senior LFB official which she brought on September 29.

Firefighters from Milwall fire station, members for the Fire Brigades Union’s Women’s Action Committee, of which Sian is the chair, and friend’s of Sian’s held banners outside the HQ in Union Street, Southwark and handed out letters to London Fire Authority members asking that Sian be reinstated.

Speaking to the East London Advertiser, Sian, who was one of the first women to become an operational firefighter in 1985, said: “I’m a middle manager and I’ve pushed through policy changes in terms of equality and I’ve challenged discrimination and harrassment in the past.

“I’ve been on the Fire Brigade Union (FBU)’s side, I’m a union official.

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“Brian Coleman (chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority) is bringing this service into disrepute and I’ve been fighting back.

“I took a stand at Shadwell, I wore a No to Bullying union badge.

“I didn’t expect or ask any of my firefighters to do the same. I believed that I was carrying out union action short of a strike but I was told there would be disciplinary action over that.

“On the day I was supposed to be in a disciplinary meeting, I was then suspended. I don’t know the details of the claim against me.”

A LFB spokeswoman said she could not comment on individual disciplinary cases and would not confirm why Sian has been suspended.

The LFB and FBU are currently negotiating over proposed changes to shift patterns.

Sian had been a station manager at Shadwell station in Cable Street since April 1 before moving to a role at the LFB’s Southwark training centre on October 18.

She was previously a station manager at Milwall station in Westferry Road for 18 months.

She said: “I aspired to be a senior manager and I think they liked the idea of that because of the image because I’m a woman.

“But they don’t like that I speak my mind.”

A Milwall firefighter and former colleague of Sian’s, who didn’t want to be named, said: “She’s done so much. She’s pushed through changes for women and men - both have benefited from better child care arrangements for example.”

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