Wednesday 19 September 2018

Cork Fire Brigade threatens strike action over 'monies owed'

Cork City Fire brigade attend to localised flooding. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Cork City Fire brigade attend to localised flooding. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Politicians and business leaders have called for mediation in the escalating dispute between Cork Fire Brigade members and Cork City Council.

The plea came as fire fighters voted overwhelmingly last weekend in favour of strike action. Firefighters warned there is still time to resolve the dispute before strike action is triggered - with a key meeting planned in late July.

Since June 18, fire fighters have been waging a campaign of industrial action in protest at the non-payment of back monies to staff under the Public Services Agreement (PSA).

The action involves firefighters declining to undertake a number of non-frontline duties. These include entering incident calls on the Incident Recording System, undertaking drills and training as well as limiting overtime crewing.

Shop steward Billy Crowley said the position of firefighters was underlined by the fact 98pc of members voted in favour of industrial action - and 95pc backed strike action.

"We hope management come to the table and sort this out," he said.

City Council members expressed concern that the dispute could escalate to strike action.

"It should never have gotten to this - this cannot happen at all," Councillor Tim Brosnan warned. Cork City Council insisted that the action is "a complete breach of the PSA and established industrial relations procedures and practices."

The council stressed that it has paid firefighters increases due under the PSA.

However, back monies were due in relation to these increases but the council insisted it is precluded from paying these monies until the firefighters are in full compliance with the terms of the PSA, including undertaking key safety training courses.

"A number of scheduled training courses have had to be cancelled over the last period of time due to the refusal of firefighters to participate. The current unofficial actions of members of Cork City Fire Service are unwarranted and regrettable," a city council spokesperson said.

"The city council remains as always available to meet with official trade union representatives with the objective of bringing these unofficial actions to a timely and constructive conclusion."

One fire fighter stressed that the stand-off is borne out of "pure frustration" at the failure of the council to pay back monies which everyone involved agreed is now owing.

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