Press Release

SIPTU says local authorities refuse emergency cover for strike by retained fire fighters

Date Released: 25 July 2023

SIPTU representatives have condemned the refusal by local authorities to agree an emergency cover plan for the strike by retained fire fighters which is to commence tomorrow (Wednesday, 26th July). They have claimed that it can only be interpreted as a cynical move to pit the public against the men and women of the retained fire service.

SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Karan O Loughlin, said: “Unfortunately, with the strike action beginning tomorrow, the local authorities are once again refusing to agree an emergency cover plan that will allow retained fire fighters to respond to life threatening calls in an orderly and organised fashion.

“For nine weeks, the local authorities and the Government have had an opportunity to put contingency measures in place. Our members will maintain a high level of cover, even under the current circumstances, but the management will not co-operate. The are citing a risk assessment that has been recently completed but the mitigating measures put in place are just not sufficient. Playing this sort of Russian roulette and making ordinary retained fire fighters responsible for the running of the service is just not on.”

She added: “Retained firefighters are striking to ensure that a government report on the future of the service is implemented in full in order to resolve the recruitment and retention crisis that threatens to collapse this essential community resource. Our members have pursued, for years now, every avenue and process for resolution open to them and yet here we are, with strike action as a last resort commencing and there is not an ounce of political will from ministers, Darragh O Brien and Paschal Donohoe or An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to resolve this dispute. 

“The lack of understanding about the job and the lack of respect for the men and women in the retained service is shocking and it is past time now that the national and local government take their responsibility for this essential front-line service and seek to resolve this dispute.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan O’Brien, said: SIPTU strike committees are organised in every county across the country and have spent hours meeting with management to get emergency measures agreed. Management, however, is demonstrating a high degree of intransigence on this issue and are refusing to agree any plan for tomorrow or for any day after that. Our members are steadfast that this dispute will continue until retained fire fighters get a satisfactory resolution.

The Retained Fire Service is a 2,000 strong part-time workforce which provides fire and first responder emergency services across the country, apart from county Dublin, Cork city and Galway city where full-time fire services operate.

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