Wednesday 18 October 2017

Firefighters strike threat as paramedics start pay deal action

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

AN ORGANISATION representing hundreds of firefighters says members won't accept any deal on premium pay that leaves other frontline workers facing cuts.

The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) said members will oppose cuts in pay to gardai, nurses and paramedics and may go as far as taking strike action over the matter.

Its national secretary John Kidd told the Irish Independent: "Firefighters, no matter what union they're in, aren't scabs."

Mr Kidd was commenting as another group in the 24/7 Frontline Alliance announced measures to combat what it dubbed the "inequality and unfairness" of the new Croke Park deal.

The National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) said that its members would no longer use personally-owned sat-navs, mobile phones, and laptops.

The action will begin this coming St Patrick's weekend, an occasion which is fast becoming a line in the sand for the emergency workers.

The ambulance workers also said they will also be withdrawing non-rostered cover from public events like the St Patrick's Day parade.

NASRA chairman Michael Dixon said: "The focus here is it will be St Patrick's weekend – The Gathering and also the EU presidency is here and we want to let people know that at the end of the day we can't be taken for granted anymore."

The Garda Representative Association – which is refusing overtime to police public events – has also identified the holiday weekend as a crucial date.

Parade organisers could face disruption, although other rostered workers could be drafted in from elsewhere to ensure public safety is not compromised.

The discontent within the 24/7 Frontline Alliance stems from a deal cut between the Government and unions like SIPTU and IMPACT that will see premium pay rates, twilight payments and allowances maintained for firefighters and prison officers.

The payments for those workers are being protected due to savings made elsewhere – but under the main Croke Park II agreement most public servants will suffer a Sunday premium rate cut and lose twilight payments. Nurses, gardai and ambulance drivers are among those that face pay cuts.

But Mr Kidd said IFESA's members "will not be accepting any deal without everyone in the 24/7 Alliance being included".

Action

He said that the Government had "four weeks to sort out the mess that they've created" but that after that "I'll be urging our membership to take action up to withdrawing the full service."

He added: "And I'll be urging everyone in 24/7 to do the same."

Mr Kidd criticised SIPTU for agreeing to the deal and said: "We're in this together. These pay cuts should not even be entertained."

SIPTU sector organiser Owen Reidy said that any "inferences that there was some kind of sweetener or special deal (for firefighters) is wrong".

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News