June 20, 2023
Government must use Labour Court talks to reset approach to Retained Fire Service and negotiate settlement – John Brady TD

Sinn Féin TD John Brady has welcomed the announcement that talks will resume between SIPTU, acting on behalf of Retained Fire Fighters, and the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) at the Labour Court next Monday. 

The Retained Fire Fighters suspended their planned strike this week, and have deescalated industrial action to allow space for the talks to take place.

Wicklow TD Brady said:

“I welcome that all sides believe there is a basis for talks to continue at the Labour Court. This is a positive development. 

“But it is important to state that the Retained Fire Fighters did not want to engage in industrial action in the first place – they were forced into taking action by the arrogance and lip service paid to them by Minister Darragh O’Brien throughout this whole process.

“The Fire Fighters have, at all times, acted in good faith. They set out from the outset to secure commitments from government to address core issues at the heart of the recruitment and retention crisis, which if left unaddressed will lead to the total collapse of the service.

“Minister O’Brien and his government must remove the roadblocks that scuppered earlier attempts at reaching a negotiated solution. 

“The government must instruct DPER to release the necessary resources to meet the needs of the Retained Fire Service to prevent the further erosion of its strength.

“While talks take place within the Labour Court between SIPTU and the LGMA, the reality is that the outcome of the dispute will be decided in Government Buildings by Minister Darragh O’Brien and his cabinet colleagues.

“The outstanding question everybody is waiting to see answered is whether they will honour the recommendations of their own report into the crisis in the Retained Fire Service.

“In voting to amend last week’s Sinn Féin motion to reject solutions to this crisis, Minister O’Brien once again completely underestimated the resolve of the Retained Fire Service and the public support they have received right across the state.

“I would encourage him to acknowledge that he is wrong, that the manner in which he has engaged with the Retained Fire Service has been seen as high-handed and arrogant by fire fighters, and use Monday’s talks as an opportunity to reset the government approach and do the right thing by the Retained Fire Service.

“Sinn Féin will not let this slide. Sinn Féin in government would urgently intervene to increase the fixed incomes of firefighters and increase staffing levels in order to build a fit-for-purpose service.”

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