Tipperary Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne is criticising Minister Darragh O’Brien over his hands-off approach to dealing with the needs of retained firefighters in Tipperary who he says have been left with no option but to but to escalate their industrial action. The Firefighters are to escalate their industrial action further on Saturday August 19th and again on August 26th if no talks begin to bring about a settlement.
Deputy Browne says the existing pay and working conditions has led to this crisis and that the Minister’s positon that more staff can be attracted to the Retained Fire Service without changes to pay levels defies rational thinking.
Deputy Browne is again calling on the Minister to engage with the retained firefighters and with their representatives in SIPTU to bring about a just and fair resolution to this industrial dispute.
Independent Tipperary Councillor Seamus Morris is calling on the LGMA, who represent the employer side, to engage with SIPTU to resolve the dispute before there is a loss of life due to a delayed response to an emergency. A house was destroyed by fire in Coolbawn near Nenagh on Saturday – Fire Service Units from Roscrea and Limerick responded as Nenagh, Cloughjordan and Borrisokane were all off call due to the industrial action of retained firefighters. At present 50% of Tipperary Fire Stations are “off call” at any time.
The public are advised to continue to call 999 or 112 in the event of an emergency.
Minister Darragh O’Brien has asked both sides in the Retained Fire Fighters dispute to reengage with the Work Place Relations Commission in an effort to end the industrial action. SIPTU says it is willing to engage in the talks but cautions that there is currently no indication of a change in positon on the part of the LGMA.
Minister O’Brien says that the planned escalation of the industrial action on August 19th and 26th could make the situation highly unsafe for firefighters and pose a severe threat to public safety.
The Minister did recognise the right of SIPTU members to engage in industrial action. The Minister also repeated a commitment to be a strong advocate for the Retained Firefighters during the upcoming talks on a new public sector pay deal.
As of now the industrial action continues and fire stations in Tipperary town, Clonmel, Nenagh, Cloughjordan, Borrisokane and Newport are off call today.
The public continues to be advised to call 999 or 112 in the event of an emergency.