6 June 2023
By Elaine Murphy
Independent TD for Cork South-West Michael Collins has offered his unequivocal support to the estimated 2000 retained firefighters who began work-to-rule strike action today.
Deputy Collins was speaking after the National Retained Firefighters Association of Ireland (NRFA) laid the blame for its decision to initiate the first in the series of planned strike actions squarely at the door of the Minister for Housing and Local Government Darragh O’Brien.
The Minister’s department has overall responsibility for setting general policy for firefighters, for providing capital funding support as well as funding of priority firefighting infrastructure projects:
“Our firefighters in West Cork are, as I have repeatedly stated on the record, some of the most dedicated public servants in the country,” said Deputy Collins.
“The fact that they are being driven to take action of such a drastic nature speaks volumes about the levels of frustration that exist within the service around recruitment and retention and in particular the scandalous pay arrangements which sees whole-time retained fire officers earn only some €700 per month, which equates to 99 cent per hour. They are on call 24-7, 365 days of the year and they must stay within 3 km or five minutes of the station.”
“They have been flagging these issues for well over a decade now. Is it any wonder that our courageous fire personnel have reached their limit?”
“We simply cannot expect them to literally put their lives on the line while giving so little in return.”
“Government and indeed the County and City Management Association (CCMA) must take whatever steps are necessary to prevent the escalation of this work-to-rule action today escalating to a full-blown national strike on June 20th”
“The Government has two weeks to get its act together and show proper respect. It is the least our firefighters deserve,” Deputy Collins concluded.