Continued government failure could lead to industrial action within Retained Fire Service – John Brady TD
Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady has expressed concern that if a resolution is not reached in negotiations between Retained Fire Fighters representatives and Fire Services National Oversight and Implementation Group (FSNOIG), Retained Fire Fighters will be forced to consult with its members with a view to balloting for industrial action.
A national emergency meeting took place on Thursday September 29th in Liberty Hall to discuss a proposal for industrial action, and to ensure that all stations across the state are onboard.
The meeting took place in the absence of any meaningful progress in discussions between the SIPTU national negotiating committee and Fire Services National Oversight and Implementation Group (FSNOIG) in terms of trying to put in place measures to deal with the recruitment and retention crisis in the service.
Teachta Brady said:
“There is serious concern that if the government does not meaningfully engage with the Retained Fire Fighters representatives to address the retention and recruitment crisis in the service, following the emergency meeting on Thursday September 29th to discuss a proposal for industrial action, the Retained Fire Fighters will be forced to vote for industrial action.
“It was agreed at the emergency meeting to meet again on October 7th to give the government time to respond. Failure to progress matters will leave the Retained Fire Fighters with no option but to bring forward proposals with a view to holding Industrial action
“The Retained Fire Service are frontline workers. The majority who join up are motivated by a desire to serve their community as emergency workers. Their role involves huge sacrifices.
“With the current crisis in retention and recruitment, they are forced to work extra hours to make up for staffing shortages where they forgo time off to spend with families. It is not a role conducive to family life. And the retainer money they receive does not come close to compensating them for the sacrifices that they make.
“Current conditions offer little incentive for new recruits to the Retained Fire Service. It is seen as a thankless role with little or no personal benefit.
“A recent survey points to some 60% of Retained Fire Service intending to leave the service in the near future. Many within the next year.
“The strain of being on 24-hour call, seven days a week, in understaffed fire stations, with little hope of promotion is having a significant impact on morale. Many highly trained, highly motivated individuals who love the fire service, and are committed to serving their communities are being forced out of the job.
“The impact of this loss of experience will be devastating to both the Retained Fire Service, and the communities which they serve.
“The government must act, and it must act immediately to address the concerns of the Retained Fire Service.”