Monday 11 December 2017

Firefighters threaten to strike in row over recruitment levels in city

A meeting of the Dublin Fire Brigade Siptu dispute committee will now be convened.
A meeting of the Dublin Fire Brigade Siptu dispute committee will now be convened.

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 firefighters.

In a letter to Siptu members today, the union sector organiser Brendan O’Brien said the result of the ballot was that 96pc were in favour of industrial action and 87pc 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 firefighters.’”

“We have received an overwhelming mandate [to take action],” Mr O’Brien said.

“Our members in Dublin Fire Brigade 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,” he added.

A source in the fire service in Dublin said staff shortages mean that sometimes crew levels can be down 15-20pc 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 firefighters 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 firefighters, which was supported by Siptu.


Instead he said DCC wants to proceed with internal recruitment, which Mr O’Brien does not believe will succeed in recruiting numbers needed as quickly as they are required.

Mr O’Brien said firefighters 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 firefighters 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.

Dublin City Council did not respond to queries regarding the issue.

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