SIPTU members employed as Retained Fire Services firefighters by local councils across the country will begin a campaign of industrial action on 6th June. The union says the dispute results from the failure of management to adequately address a worsening recruitment and retention crisis in the service. The industrial action will involve staff in county Tipperary.
Retained firefighters are paid an annual allowance for their service but most generally have other full time employment. Tipperary county council is currently advertising positions in all 13 Tipperary fire stations offering a rate of pay of €20,000 to €25,000 annually.
The campaign of industrial action will commence on 6th June with members restricting their work to only responding to emergency calls. This will involve non-cooperation with training, drills and radio calls through the emergency centres being replaced by the use of mobile calls to fire service management.
The industrial action will escalate on June 13th if a new agreement is not in place. On 13th June a series of rolling work stoppages are scheduled to commence with the action set to escalate to an all-out strike on 20th June if the dispute has not been resolved.
SIPTU represents almost 2000 Retained Fire Service members across 200 fire stations nationally. Many of the stations currently report staff shortages. Tipperary Town station does not have sufficient staff at present to deploy the two firefighting units at it’s disposal and has to rely on support from neighbouring stations in responding to certain situations. In some cases, actual firefighting or rescues cannot begin until the second unit arrives to comply with health and safety protocols designed to protect Firefighters.
The SIPTU Negotiating Committee who attended talks with management on resolving the recruitment and retention crisis in the service, considered that proposals presented to it fell short of the minimum required to address the issue. The proposals also fall short of recommendations from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in relation to addressing structured pay in the service laying the blame at the feet of the Local Government Management Representatives.