Wednesday 13 November 2019

SIPTU members of Dublin Fire Brigade vote in favour of strike action

Dublin Fire Brigade. Source: DFB
Dublin Fire Brigade. Source: DFB

Elaine Keogh

SIPTU members of Dublin fire brigade have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over the decision not to hold an open competition for new fire fighters.

In a letter to SIPTU members this morning, SIPTU sector organiser Brendan O’Brien said the result of the ballot was that 96 percent were in favour of industrial action and 87 percent were in favour of strike action.

He said the ballot was taken ‘following the decision by the chief executive of Dublin City Council to renege on the agreement reached in May on recruiting new fire fighters.’

Mr O’Brien said ‘we have received an overwhelming mandate’ to take action in support of our members in Dublin Fire Brigade who he said, ‘have been exposed by management to increased and unacceptable levels of risk arising from their failure to uphold our agreement to maintain minimum staffing levels.’

A source in the fire service in Dublin said that staff shortages mean that sometimes crew levels can be down 15-20 percent on what they should be ‘seriously reducing the level of cover to the city.’

Speaking this morning Mr O’Brien said, “there is a deficit of 70 fire fighters at the moment and we expect that to reach 100 by the end of this year due to the rate of retirement.”

He said it was agreed in May to hold an open competition for new fire fighters which was supported by SIPTU.

Instead he said that Dublin City Council wants to proceed with internal recruitment which Mr O’Brien does not believe will succeed in recruiting the numbers needed as quickly as they are needed.

Mr O’Brien said that fire fighters recruited today would not be ready for one year as they have to go through training and “in the meantime we sometimes do not have enough fire fighters to allow our appliances to be dispatched,” without calling in staff who are on rest days or on training days.

“It is a matter of urgency that the open competition starts.  We do not want to see our members or the public at unnecessary risk,” he added.

A meeting of the Dublin Fire Brigade SIPTU dispute committee will now be convened to consider the outcome of the ballot and the union will decide on what course of action will be taken next.

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