Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow, John Brady, has urged the government to act immediately to deliver on the proposals from the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), following the decision by SIPTU Retained Firefighters (RFF) to vote to accept the WRC proposals by 63%.
Teachta Brady said:
“The fact that the WRC proposals only received 63% of support from SIPTU Retained Firefighters is indicative of the longstanding government failure to address the issues that underlie the recruitment and retention crisis in the RFF, and the level of distrust that this has created with RFF members.
“The treatment of the RFF membership by the government has left a legacy of dissatisfaction.
“It is critical that at the very least the government works to ensure that the WRC proposals are acted upon immediately, and that the political commitments given by Minister Darragh O’Brien are carried through.
“Minister O’Brien has committed to delivering a deal for Retained Fire Fighters in the national pay talks as the second phase of addressing the core renumeration issue for the RFF.
“Although, given the Ministers failure to address the housing crisis, there is scepticism regarding his ability to deliver for fire fighters given his poor record.
“The proposals brought forward by the WRC reflect a concession to the tenacity, commitment, and cohesion of the RFF in respect of the need to address the difficulties within the service.
“I acknowledge the tremendous effort that the members of the RFF have undertaken to ensure the continuing safety of not just their serving members, but also members of the public.
“Key problems remain in the RFF – today’s decision must mark the beginning of a process where the government acknowledges its responsibilities to firefighters and the public, and works to bring the service into the twenty-first century.
“There is an urgent need for a complete overhaul of structures of the Retained Fire Service. The proposals that the WRC have brought forward do not represent the totality of what is needed to resolve the problems in the Retained Fire Service.
“Without a comprehensive overhaul which will drag the service into the 21st century, we will be left in a situation, where nothing has been achieved other than a patch up job, that will enable the service to limp on for a few more years, before it completely collapses.
“Without this necessary overhaul, we are going to end up back here sooner rather than later.”