July 31, 2023
Government Ministers ‘asleep at the wheel’ on Retained Fire-Fighters dispute – Senator Paul Gavan

Sinn Féin Seanad spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Senator Paul Gavan, has accused the government of being “asleep at the wheel” with regard to the ongoing industrial dispute over pay and conditions by SIPTU members of the Retained Fire Service

Senator Gavan said: 

“Retained firefighters throughout the state are set to complete their first week of renewed strike action following their rejection of inadequate Labour Court proposals, yet there has been no new initiative from government to resolve these matters.

“Government ministers have headed off on their holidays leaving an essential service in crisis and 2,000 striking workers to twist in the wind.

“As Karan O’Loughlin of SIPTU has said, the very future of the service is in doubt if the current crisis in recruitment and retention of firefighters is not resolved. The lack of attention being paid to this dispute by government ministers makes a mockery of all previous talk about how much respect they have for the workers involved.

“What I cannot understand is the lack of initiative and engagement from the relevant Ministers, Darragh O’Brien and Paschal Donoghue since the announcement that strike action would recommence. They both appear to be asleep at the wheel when it comes to this dispute.

“What is needed is a fresh engagement through the Workplace Relations Commission to resolve this dispute with government ministers prepared to use imagination and creativity to enhance the value of the proposals that were previously rejected.

“Minister O’Brien must secure agreement with DPER to ensure that retained fire fighters finally receive a fair deal from this government.

“It’s shocking to see that the government continues to lack the political will to address the core issues at the heart of the recruitment and retention crisis in the Retained Fire Service.

“The starting point for progress must be a recognition from government ministers that Retained Fire Fighters need to be paid properly and that Retained Fire Fighters should not be dependent on social welfare to make up their wages or put food on the table.”

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