Talks to avert firefighter strike set for later this month

Talks are due to take place today in a bid to avert industrial action by Cork city’s firefighters later this month.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has scheduled a conciliation conference in the city this lunchtime to hear both sides in the dispute over back money linked to pay restoration.

The firefighters, who have been engaged in unofficial industrial action, say they have not been paid back money linked to a pay restoration process under the Public Services Stability Agreement (PSSA). The payments are worth up to €500 to each firefighter. They say they are the only full-time brigade in the country not to get the payments.

The dispute brought almost 90 uniformed firefighters out onto the steps of City Hall in protest almost a month ago.

And they balloted overwhelmingly last weekend for industrial action, up to and including strike action, and served notice on Cork City Council earlier this week of industrial action on July 25.

They insist this dispute is not linked to a separate dispute over training courses, dating back to 2015, which the city council says has forced it to cancel more than 20 training sessions.

Cork City Council says it has paid its firefighters all increases due under the PSSA but says it is precluded from paying the back monies until the firefighters comply in full with the terms of the PSSA by engaging in all scheduled training, ceasing industrial action, and undertaking their full range of duties.

In a statement yesterday, the council welcomed confirmation from the WRC of the conciliation conference.

The scheduling of the conference follows a request earlier this week by City Hall management to expedite the conciliation process,” it said.

Four firefighter representatives are expected to attend. City Hall said it is facilitating their attendance.

“Cork City Council looks forward to productively engaging with the matters at issue and remains committed to the use of the established industrial relations machinery of the State to bring conclusion to same.”

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