Retained firefighters end strike after accepting WRC proposals

Striking members of Rathkeale Fire Station's retained service with Senator Paul Gavan and Joanne Collins.

SIPTU retained firefighters this week voted to accept proposals from the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to resolve their industrial dispute, following intensive consultation last week and a secret ballot. 

The retained service is now set to return to work after carrying out strike action across the summer months, with improved conditions based on a previous recommendation from the Labour Court.
Karan O’Loughlin, SIPTU Divisional Organiser, deemed it a protracted battle to bring the terms and conditions for retained firefighters into the public domain and to begin the process of rebuilding the Retained Fire Service.

“While today’s vote ends the current strike, it does not end that battle,” Ms O’Loughlin insisted.
“The WRC document is the beginning of the next stage for the retained firefighters. SIPTU representatives will be writing immediately to the employers and to the Minister. We will advise of the acceptance of the document and seek to engage in discussions in respect of the retainer and the rollout of the WRC terms, especially those clauses that relate to recruitment, pay, and time off.

“We will be making it clear that we expect the terms of the WRC document to be delivered in full and in a timely manner. We also expect that the political commitments in respect of the next movement on the retainer will be delivered in full.”

The WRC agreement proposals were based on a previous recommendation for retained firefighters that provides for: a minimum of 12 retained firefighters per station, with 6 available to respond; an increase in staff numbers of around 20 per cent  (approximately 400 new retained firefighters); 50 additional promotional positions being created; structured time off to enable a retained firefighter to be away from their station fire-ground area for up to 24 weeks a year; individual flexibility with regard to availability; and flexibility to attend calls when scheduled on leave, if desired.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

Brendan O’Brien, SIPTU Sector Organiser for the Local Authority Sector, said that their national elected committee will now meet for further planning.

“The Retained Fire Fighters are battle scarred after many years of struggle over these issues. While the WRC document does not deliver a cure for all that ails the Retained Fire Service, it has created a path forward to commence the transformation that the service needs.

“Firefighters are to be commended for their steadfast solidarity to each other and to their communities during this very difficult dispute,” Mr O’Brien added.

Darragh O’Brien, Minister for Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, welcomed the ending of the strike, saying: “I welcome the decision of the Retained Fire Fighters to accept the recommendations of the WRC. I want to thank them and their representatives for their constructive engagement with the Local Government Management Agency. I also want to thank the WRC for their efforts in bringing about a resolution to this dispute.”