Cork Firefighters in pay row with City Hall

Cork Firefighters in pay row with City Hall

CORK City firefighters are at loggerheads with City Hall management and will hold a protest outside City Hall this evening calling for ‘back money’ due under public sector pay restoration agreements.

The staff of Cork City Fire Brigade are currently engaging in unofficial industrial action and are threatening to escalate to strikes if back money in the region of €500 per person per year is not paid.

They say that they are the last firefighters in the country not to be paid the increase, which amounts to about €10 per week. However, Cork City Council has said it will not pay the increases while the unofficial action takes place.

Cork City Fire Brigade representative Billy Walsh described it is a “Catch 22” situation, where staff are taking action because they are not being paid and City Hall is not paying them because they are taking action.

Staff are currently on a work-to-rule, not entering incident calls into the City Council’s system, not taking part in drills and training, and limiting overtime crewing. Firefighters nationwide took part in the same action earlier this year when the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government agreed that they would all be paid within eight weeks. Mr Walsh said that Cork City Council has now gone beyond that, leading to the latest action.

In an open letter to city councillors to be presented tonight, firefighters say they have been left with no other option than to ballot for further action and asked them to intervene on their behalf.

“We are asking you, as an elected representative of the people of Cork City, to prevail upon the management team of Cork City Council to honour their commitments and prevent this situation worsening.

“We too serve the people of Cork and deserve to be treated fairly,” they said.

A spokesperson for Cork City Council said that officials are willing to meet with representatives to come to terms on the paying the back money, but called the current action “regrettable”.

“The City Council has paid its firefighters all increases due under the public service agreements. Backmonies were due in relation to these increases but the Council is precluded from paying these backmonies until the firefighters comply in full with the terms of the Public Service Agreements. The current unofficial actions of members of Cork City Fire Service are unwarranted and regrettable.”

Meanwhile, the Cork City Fire Brigade responded to more than 50 callouts to bonfires on ‘Bonna Night’ on Saturday. The illegal fires left some areas scorched and covered in burned plastic, old appliances, and household waste.

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