Pro-Breixt fire union official unfairly sacked, tribunal finds
Paul Embery has won a claim for unfair dismissal against the Fire Brigades Union – FBU.
He was sacked in relation to a speech he gave in a personal capacity (not as an FBU representative) and in his own private time to a pro-Brexit rally outside parliament in 2019.
Norwich Employment Tribunal ruled he was unfairly dismissed after a “witch hunt” with a pre-determined outcome.
The tribunal heard there had been regular disagreements between Mr. Embery and FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack over the issue of Brexit. Mr. Embery was warned of reprisals and at one point accused of siding with the ‘far right‘.
The conflict appeared to come to a head as Mr. Embery planned to attend the Leave Means Leave rally in Parliament Square.
Before the rally, the tribunal heard Mr. Embery was told by FBU President Ian Murray that he should not attend as a speaker and that to do so could breach the union’s policy against Brexit, which passed in 2016.
Mr. Murray was also said to have suggested it could contravene a statement prohibiting FBU officials from campaigning with political opponents during the referendum campaign.
Mr. Embery believed Mr. Murray was wrong, and that the policy had lapsed once the referendum was held, the tribunal was told.
The activist was introduced at the rally as an organiser of Trade Unions Against the European Union and used a speech to describe a battle to defend the principle of democracy, after a majority voted to leave the EU in June 2016.
Mr. Embery said in the speech that the “message to the leaders of my movement is, if you want to stay relevant, then it’s about time you put yourself on the side of the people over the establishment and big business, and you better do that damn quickly“.
This is a great victory – on a personal level – for Paul Embery. It’s also a great victory for democracy and the right of ordinary workers & trade unionists to openly speak their minds. Whatever union policy is members and officials should be able to publicly disagree as long as they make it clear that it is their personal view and that they are not speaking on behalf of the union.