Court Cork City Council has said it has contacted the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and requested the services of the Labour Court to assist in the resolution of an ongoing dispute between the local authority and members of Cork City Fire Brigade.
It comes as last month city firefighters voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action over a reduction of operational pumps in the city area from four to three due to the current closure of Ballincollig Fire Station.
Earlier this week, Billy Crowley, firefighter and union representative with Cork City Fire Brigade, told The Echo that industrial action focusing on a work-to-rule that would primarily affect administrative duties and processes was to commence on Friday.
In a statement on Wednesday, Cork City Council said the “provision and maintenance of a safe, effective and efficient Fire Services for the citizens of Cork City and its hinterland is a critical priority” and expressed “serious concerns” in relation to the proposed industrial action.
“The council has made extensive efforts both locally and through the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission over an extended period of time to resolve the dispute.
Commenting after the statement was issued, Mr Crowley said he welcomed the council’s decision.
“The reason for the ballot for industrial action and strike action and the reason we were starting on industrial action on Friday morning was because council wouldn’t go to the Labour Court.
He said union members were due to meet at 5pm on Wednesday in a meeting scheduled before the statement was issued to discuss the situation, but that it “is likely that the action will be called off for Friday”.
Mr Crowley said the industrial action was not to do with pay or annual leave but solely due to the current closure of Ballincollig Fire Station which has meant a reduction of operational pumps in the city area from four to three.
The council’s statement was also welcomed by Sinn Féin councillor Eolan Ryng who, along with his party colleagues on city council, had tabled a motion at Monday night’s council meeting to discuss the current pressures the city’s Fire Service is under.
The motion proposed that councillors would acknowledge and commend the ongoing efforts to recruit a retained fire service in Ballincollig and “without prejudice to this process” would call upon the council Executive “to explore every possible option to reopen and staff Ballincollig Fire Station in the interim from existing staff to ensure safety and adequate cover is available across the city and beyond”.
Speaking following the council’s statement on Wednesday, Mr Ryng said he welcomed the development.
“Hopefully it will lead to a satisfactory resolution for all concerned.
“Hopefully this will lead to a situation where all fire stations are active again, including Ballincollig Fire Station."