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Retained Fire Service

Retained firefighters to resume strike action after rejecting Labour Court recommendations

The suspension on strike action will now be lifted and it will commence at every fire station from Wednesday, 26 July.

RETAINED FIREFIGHTERS ARE to resume strike action next week after an “overwhelming majority” rejected proposed Labour Court recommendations.

The Retained Fire Service is a 2,000 strong part-time workforce that provides fire and first responder emergency services across the country.

Siptu members employed as Retained Fire Services firefighters have been engaged in industrial action in recent weeks due to what the trade union describes as a “staffing crisis which threatens this vital community resource”.

It said that many firefighters are unable to take their leave entitlements due to staff shortages and that members have seen their incomes drastically reduced due to reductions in call-outs over the last number of years.

Plans for all-out strike action were suspended last month in order to allow for the Labour Court intervention.

However, the trade union last week said it was “disappointed” with the recommendations made by the Labour Court and that they anticipated members would reject the document in a ballot.

It was confirmed this morning that 82% of Siptu firefighters rejected the Labour Court recommendations.

As a result, the suspension on strike action will now be lifted and the strike will commence at every fire station from Wednesday, 26 July.

Labour Court recommendations

On 10 July, the Labour Court made ten recommendations in relation to the dispute.

It recommended that staff at retained stations be increased to 12, allowing a crew of six to be rostered on while an alternate crew of six is rostered off.

This would see an increase of around 400 staff and reduce the liability of each firefighter to respond to alerts from 75% of all alerts to 45% of alerts “without reduction or negative effect on the value of the Retainer payment”, the recommendation reads.

The Labour Court also recommended that the retainer be increased by between 24.1% and 32.7%. This would mean a firefighter on an annual retainer of €8,870 would see it increase to €11,769 from 1 October.

Speaking after these proposals were announced, Siptu’s Karan O’Loughlin said there was nothing in the recommendations to deal with “the precarious nature of the firefighters’ earnings with the retainer, drill and training still the only guaranteed pay”.

She anticipated that the recommendations would be “overwhelmingly rejected” and that there would be a return to strike action.

In a statement this morning, O’Loughlin said: “Stations all over the country are short staffed with dangerously low levels of crewing on call out.

“The increases in the modest retainer given to these essential workers may look like something on a percentage basis but, in reality, they are a high percentage of a small amount and will do nothing to attract the numbers of firefighters that are required to address the issues.”

O’Loughlin also said that the proposals were “inadequate as people are retiring on a mandatory basis or just leaving because the job is traumatic and stressful and not worth it because of the high levels of commitment and availability that are required”.

“These problems are exacerbated by the fact that most of the income earned is precarious and not guaranteed,” she added.

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