With industrial action by city firefighters ongoing, a city councillor has called on the chief executive of Cork City Council to “knock heads together” and restore full service to.
Ballincollig councillor’s comments come as members at Cork City Fire Brigade have said they will not engage with the Workplace Relations Commission ( ) until Cork City Council makes plain its proposals to resolve the current industrial dispute.
Members of Cork City Fire Brigade have taken to the picket lines over the past fortnight in an dispute over staffing levels, and the union has warned that the current work-to-rule will escalate.
has said the dispute centres on the failure of Cork City Council to reinstate Ballincollig Retained Fire and Rescue Service, or to provide additional resources to Cork City Fire Brigade to cover Ballincollig.
It has been claimed that since Cork city’s 2019 boundary extension, Cork City Fire Service now covers an area five times the size of its previous territory, with double the population of the old city while operating with the same number of trucks and personnel on each shift as before the city’s expansion.
Ballincollig Fire Station closed in2021 as a result of staff shortages and firefighters are calling for it to be reopened with full-time employees and an additional fire truck to service the city.
A spokesperson for Cork City Council told The Echo: “Cork City Council has fully engaged with theand has accepted an invitation to attend a meeting with the unions in respect of the current industrial relations dispute.”
However, a spokesperson forsaid the union was “ready, willing and able to engage but, as advised to the council both verbally and in writing, we require sight of the proposal that is being referred colloquially as ‘Plan B’ before we engage with the .
“This is a mandated position by the affectedmembers and it is being taken because of previous and prevailing industrial relations circumstances within Cork city fire and rescue services,” the spokesperson said.
, a Fine Gael city councillor, called on Cork City Council’s chief executive to intervene and resolve the issue.
“I am calling on Cork City Council management, and especially our chief executive, to knock heads together and don’t city council be blaming the union or the union be blaming city council, sit around the table and talk to each other, it can be sorted out,” Cllr Canty said.
Mr Canty, who for many years before the city merger represented Ballincollig as a member of Cork County Council, expressed his frustration at the pace of works carried out by Cork City Council insince the town was incorporated into the city.
“The most aggravating thing with Cork City Council as far as I can see is how long it takes to get anything done,” he said.
“I was inside with the chief executive,, over two years ago, and I raised a number of issues, first of all the fire brigade, the next was the weir below in the Regional Park, and the straight road not being resurfaced, and everything is being put onto ‘Oh that’s not our department, this is their department’.
“What is annoying me and getting me more and more frustrated is the answers I’m getting back.” Cllr Canty said the closure of Ballincollig Fire Station could be blamed directly upon the city merger, and with it, he claimed, Ballincollig’s retained fire brigade being “recruited” into the city.
“I am being told by a lot of firemen incity that if there is a major fire in the city, in , if there are four appliances or three appliances, they would have to stay at that fire, and if there was a fire in at the same time, we would have to rely on Carrigaline, or Bandon, or Macroom, to come into Ballincollig,” Cllr Canty said.
“People here inare worried if there was a major fire in and there was something else happening in the city at the same time, where would priority go?”
Cllr Canty said he and Fianna Fáil’s Batt O’Keeffe, who were both members of Cork County Council at the time, had been instrumental in securing a fire station for Ballincollig three decades or more ago.
“Ballincollig was the biggest town inat the time and we fought for that fire station, and as soon as we went into the city at the time of the boundary extension, things went downhill with the fire service, and I’m calling for them to restore our fire station.”
Mr Canty said those who championed the merger with Cork city had won their argument and must now provide Ballincollig with the fire service it needed.