Stations across the County and Country are today operating on day on, day off service with full 24 hour closures taking place on alternating days. The National Retained Fire Fighters Association have issued a roster for closures of County Wicklow’s Fire Stations.
Following ongoing talks between the National Retained Firefighters Association, Government and SIPTU, the latest proposed deal was rejected by an 82% majority on Thursday.
Divisional Organiser at SIPTU, Karan O’Loughlin highlighted that despite the recommended pay increase being 33%, the bar was so low to begin with that this merely represents a proposed wage of under €11,800 per annum for retained fire fighters. A figure which is not commensurate with the level of commitment, additional stress and potential health risks associated with the job.
The row does not end there with wages being just one portion of the issue. With critically low levels of retained fire fighters attending call outs, there is an additional fear around the safety of crews on call. As there are already 350 live vacancies for retained fire fighters around the country, increases here will have no immediate impact on the service or the fire fighters themselves.
The knock on effect of not having full rosters is also being felt by the families of our retained fire fighters as scant rosters have seen annual leave having to be restricted and even postponed in order to fill gaps caused by unfilled positions. The stark reality is that the number of live vacancies is set to rise the longer the strikes roll on and the longer County Wicklows Retained Fire Fighters need to stand on the streets to fight for fair rights and fair pay.