Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue has made a new commitment to tackle racism in the service after acknowledging some staff have faced discrimination in the past.
The service, along with Gloucestershire County Council and the FBU, has agreed a “zero-tolerance” statement.
In it, the service says it will support all staff who raise concerns about racism with a simple method for reporting racism at work - ensuring they are not victimised for doing so - and will act to protect staff who are subjected to racist abuse.
The statement acknowledges historically, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic members have experienced "unacceptable discriminatory behaviours, attitudes and practices which do not uphold or demonstrate the values of GFRS".
The evidence from black firefighters in Gloucestershire clearly shows that racist behaviour has been prevalent in this service for years.
The FBU says it has previously raised serious concerns about excessive informal disciplinary action faced by black firefighters in Gloucestershire, which they claim proportionally far exceeded that of white colleagues.
The union also says it has repeatedly raised poor career progression for black personnel and supported a firefighter’s successful “victimisation due to ostracisation” claim against the service.
The full statement by Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue, Gloucestershire County Council and the FBU reads:
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) has a zero-tolerance approach to racism, and condemns all racist and other discriminatory behaviour. We are committed to challenging and dismantling, any structural racism within our service, and are currently reviewing our practices, policies and procedure’s. All areas within the equality framework will also be subject to review.
Regrettably, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) members have historically experienced unacceptable discriminatory behaviours, attitudes and practices which do not uphold or demonstrate the values of GFRS.
We recognise racism at work clearly can have a huge impact on BAME members’ health and wellbeing, and can cause serious ill health. For many, it is reported that experiences have had a negative impact on their work, as well as their personal lives.
Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) will ensure there is a comprehensive equality, diversity and dignity policy, which explicitly includes zero tolerance for racism and other forms of unfair discrimination.
GFRS will make it clear that they will support all staff who raise concerns about racism, and act to protect staff who are subject to racial abuse.
GFRS will ensure that there is a simple method for BAME members to report racism at work, and make sure that BAME members feel confident that complaints about racism will be taken seriously, acted on and dealt with satisfactorily.
GFRS will ensure that all staff know that workers who raise concerns about racism will not be victimised for doing so.
GCC and GFRS are committed to creating a work environment which supports positive health and wellbeing. Upholding clear values and behaviours to protect staff from racism and unfair discrimination is a cornerstone of this commitment. In order for GCC and GFRS to become ‘employers of choice’ our staff must feel safe and valued. This in turn will ensure that we are reflective of the communities we serve and can engage with them to deliver services more effectively.