Sinn Féin TD Pauline Tully has welcomed that talks will resume between SIPTU and the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) at the Labour Court next week following an outpouring of public support for Retained Fire Fighters’ demands for fairness on incomes and working conditions.
The Retained Fire Fighters have suspended their planned strike this week, and have deescalated industrial action to allow space for the talks, which will begin next Monday, take place.
Deputy Tully added that TDs Brendan Smith and Heather Humphreys underestimated the resolve of the Retained Fire Fighters, and the community backing they have received right across Cavan-Monaghan, when they voted to reject Sinn Féin’s solutions to the crisis in the Dáil last week.
Teachta Tully said:
“In voting to reject Sinn Féin’s motion solutions to this crisis, Brendan Smith and Heather Humphreys underestimated the resolve of the Retained Fire Service and the groundswell of public support they have received in Cavan-Monaghan and right across the state.
“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 and government TDs throughout this whole process.
“So it is a positive development that talks will now continue at the Labour Court and that strike action has been put on hold while those talks continue.
“The Fire Fighters have, at all times, acted in good faith in their attempts to secure commitments to address the recruitment and retention crisis, which, if left unaddressed, will lead to the total collapse of the service.
“Government TDs must start listening to them. 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 by Minister O’Brien and cabinet colleagues.
“I urge government TDs here in Cavan-Monaghan to seek an answer from Minister O’Brien on the outstanding question as to whether he will honour the recommendations of the government’s own report into the Retained Fire Service crisis.
“I also urge them to encourage Minister O’Brien to 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. A Sinn Féin government would urgently intervene to increase the fixed incomes of fire fighters and increase staffing levels to build a fit-for-purpose service.”