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Saturday 23 September 2017

Firefighters serve notice of action over safety fears

Members of SIPTU in the Dublin Fire Brigade have announced that they will take industrial action next month after the union argued that Dublin City Council had failed to maintain 'safety-critical staffing levels'
Members of SIPTU in the Dublin Fire Brigade have announced that they will take industrial action next month after the union argued that Dublin City Council had failed to maintain 'safety-critical staffing levels'

Alan O'Keeffe

SIPTU members in Dublin Fire Brigade have served notice that they will begin industrial action next month due to safety concerns over staffing levels.

The union claimed Dublin City Council has failed to maintain agreed minimum “safety- critical staffing levels”.

It said the service was currently short of 70 firefighters and this would pass 100 by next year.

Union sector organiser Brendan O’Brien said the firefighters were left with no option but to begin industrial action on October 5 because of what they claimed was a failure to maintain agreed safe staffing levels.

The action will initially take the form of refusing to work “unsustainable levels of voluntary overtime” on selected dates.

Management of the fire  service would be informed of these dates in the coming days, said Mr O’Brien.

The union said the service was using “unsustainable” levels of overtime in order to provide a full service.

Union convenor for the fire brigade Gerry Harris said last night that firefighters were “forced into this regrettable action because of management reneging on an agreement concerning the recruitment of new firefighters which was reached in May 2015”.

“This agreement set out a plan to recruit new firefighters which was in line with a circular from the Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly, that directed management to ensure safety-critical posts were maintained at agreed levels,” he said.

Siptu representatives agreed to attend a number of meetings at the Labour Relations Commission in an attempt to find another solution.

However, at those meetings the fire brigade’s management and the city council failed to present a “credible alternative plan”, said Mr Harris.

“Dublin Fire Brigade cannot provide a full service to the public without the use of unsustainable levels of overtime and the cancellation of safety critical firefighter training.”

He added that yesterday, due to under-staffing, the service in Donnybrook Fire Station was reduced to 50pc cover even though there were 22 firefighters on overtime.

Siptu members in the brigade voted for industrial action, up to and including strike action in a ballot.

Irish Independent

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