Limerick Metro Mayor hopes fire strike can be put out

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Staff at the Munster Regional Control Centre are to be balloted for industrial action in the coming weeks

Staff at the Munster Regional Control Centre are to be balloted for industrial action in the coming weeks

METROPOLITAN mayor Cllr Sean Lynch hopes “common sense will prevail” – and a strike of call-centre staff can be averted.

Siptu is to ballot its members working at the Munster Regional Control Centre on Mulgrave Street, responsible for dispatching fire engines after emergency calls.

The​ reason for the poll is due to the fact Limerick City and County Council, which operates the centre, has not engaged with staff on a number of issues related to pay, conditions and treatment of workers.

Cllr Lynch, who as a detective garda worked in the emergency service, said: “I believe there is engagement and work in progress, and I’m hoping common sense will prevail. It’s good to hear talks are ongoing. I’d just hope any industrial action of any type will be averted.”

“They are all responsible adults, and i’d hope for respect and dignity on all sides,” he added.​

The metropolitan mayor said the call-centre workers are “key to ensuring emergency services get their appliances on time and to the right location.”

One worker – speaking on condition of anonymity – said: “This is all down to the council’s personal agenda. We are emergency services when it suits them. But if the firefighters next door get something, we don't get it. We’re not classed as emergency service workers, but we do provide an emergency service. We're providing a service, and very good at our jobs, but they do not want to engage and help make things better.”

Senator Paul Gavan, Sinn Fein, said Limerick council must do everything in its power to avoid a strike.

He said he finds it hard to believe the other councils who feed into the centre have not stepped in to help resolve the standoff.

“If the workers have to resort to strike action, they have the full support of both myself and my party members in Sinn Fein,” he added.

One of only three control centres dispatching fire services in the state, the communications centre is responsible for 65 retained and four full-time fire stations in Munster.

Limerick City and County Council declined to comment, as did Siptu.