RETAINED firemen across Donegal and country-wide staged further protests on Saturday to highlight the difficulties they face and the poor pay and conditions they are enduring.
Members across the county staged protests outside their stations to stress the need for change and a letter was sent to the Minister to encourage elected TDs to meet with councils on the issue before something happens.
There will be 24 hour rolling closures of fire stations across Donegal until next Saturday as the protests continue..
In their letter the whole-time retained fire service members warned that Saturday’s protests would see all crews go “completely dark” with no communications with regional control centres.
The protests were escalated to 75 per cent of stations closing compared with 50 per cent at the last protest.
The spokesperson for the retained firemen wrote: As I am sure you are aware the Whole-time Retained Fire Service in conjunction with SIPTU and UNITE unions are currently involved in an industrial dispute as a direct result of the poor pay and conditions they have had to endure for decades.
“The recent proposals from the Labour Court recommendations fell far short of what is required to solve the on-going retention and recruitment crisis within the whole time retained service despite the headline figure of 23 per cent increase in retainer payment as it amounted to only a 23 cent increase per hour from a starting point of .99cent per hour”.
He added that their members have no desire to be in dispute but it has now become apparent that local management along with the LGMA and other stakeholders are determined to allow matters to escalate in the hope of breaking the fire fighters resolve and ending the dispute.
“This has only resulted in all fire fighters being more determined to see this through until a decent solution is found.
“It is now time for all TD’s to represent their local constituency’s at this critical juncture and use their influence to not only try and bring this dispute to an end but to do so before there is an event of serious consequence to members of the public and there is not a safe response from emergency responders due to the refusal of local management and the LGMA to engage to end this dispute,” he added.
The service representative have requested that all locally elected TD’s in each county seek a meeting with the CEO, Director of Services and their Human Resources Departments within their county as a “Collective Group” to discuss the current state of the Fire Service in their constituency and seek input with regards to how this current impasse can be resolved.