Siptu members employed as firefighters in Cork city have commenced a campaign of industrial action due to a "shortage of staff" which they claim is endangering members and public safety.
The industrial action began on Thursday with a protest by 150 firefighters as they ended their shift at the fire station on Anglesea Street in Cork city.
The firefighters have stated they will continue to stage protests. They also intend to escalate their industrial action if necessary. The industrial actions presently primarily affect administration duties.
Siptu organiser Con Casey said the root cause of this dispute lies with the ‘failure’ of fire service management to reinstate the Ballincollig Retained Fire and Rescue Service which closed in 2021 or provide additional resources to the brigade to deal with a larger area.
"The consequences of this has been to expand the area covered by the Cork City Fire Brigade without providing staff to operate the fire appliance in Ballincollig fire station, which is known as the 'Fourth Pump'.
Vacancies for retained fire and rescue service members in the Ballincollig area have remained unfilled since September 2021 even though the first recruitment campaign commenced in October 2020."
He added it is shameful that Cork City Council has ‘forced’ firefighters, who put their lives on the line for their communities, into industrial action in this way.
"Official notice of industrial action, up to and including strike action, was served on Cork City Council earlier this month. If our members must escalate their industrial action to force a resolution to this dispute, they will."
Siptu public administration and community division organiser Karan O'Loughlin said the resolution to this dispute lies in the appointment of retained fire and rescue service personnel in the Ballincollig area to allow the ‘Fourth Pump’ to be operated at agreed manning levels
In a statement, the council said they had invited Siptu to talks with a view to finding a solution to this dispute.
"The council remain available to meet union representatives. Last night, Cork City Council also sought the assistance of the Workplace Relations Commission.
"Cork City Council is committed to engaging in meaningful and focused discussions with all parties involved and to using the established industrial relations machinery of the State to agree a path forward to resolve matters.
"Management is disappointed that union members have chosen to mount an industrial action when the council had already made itself available for discussions."
They said they have assured householders that the action by Siptu members will not impact on the services provided by firefighters.