The London Professional Fire Fighters Association (LPFFA) says it’s establishing a joint committee as part of a response to allegations of harassment in the workplace in the City of London.
In a release late Tuesday on the association’s Facebook page, the firefighters union said it would create a working group to “develop strategies for examining, reviewing, and improving employee support structure.”
The association says the creation of the working group comes after “several conversations” with city manager Martin Hayward.
The joint committee will consist of members of labour organizations and management leadership.
“The LPFFA continues to be committed to preserving the integrity of the policies, and protections and maintain the focus on providing a workplace that is free of harassment, bullying, workplace violence and discrimination for all employees,” the association said in the release.
Following the meeting, Hayward issued a statement noting the city has a number of policies and procedures in place to ensure “a workplace that is free of harassment and discrimination.”
Former city councillor and current head of the London Abused Women’s Centre, Megan Walker was outraged by the statement.
“For anybody to have a two-hour special council meeting to discuss serious allegations, specific allegations of abuse, harassment, and retaliation and then come out and distribute a letter to the employees saying, We have a safe workplace,’ absolutely misses the mark,” she said.
Walker told 980 CFPL that she’s received dozens of complaints about problems within the corporation of the City of London. She also called out Mayor Matt Brown for allegedly breaking a promise he made to her while speaking on The Craig Needles Show on Tuesday.
The London Fire Department was singled out by Walker as a problem spot for the city.
“I’ll be very clear, we’ve seen a lot of issues related to the fire department in London.”
The former head of the firefighters association John Hassan told 980 CFPL even though he’s retired now he’s still approached on a weekly basis by people encountering problems looking for advice.
“The culture definitely needs to be fixed, you can give the best tool to someone that is unable or unwilling to use it and it’s not going to be very effective tool,” he said. “I’ve heard recently stories of our officers stepping forward to do the right then and then being booted to another station and being told they can’t go into certain workplaces.”
Mayor Matt Brown has declined interview requests to discuss the culture at city hall, referring all requests to Hayward. However, Brown did release a statement on Tuesday where he said council has made significant changes over the last year and improvements in workplace culture are already noticeable, but that these improvements “take time.”