10/12/2012 - With the mediation of the Catholic Church, firefighters began a dialogue today with department leaders.
Among the agreements reached were the reinstatement of Lt. Cruz Gómez, who was fired after he organized protests last week that led to the dialogue.
Starting Dec. 18, firefighters will discuss the 13 points submitted to the department, which includes demands for a salary increase and better working conditions.
At those talks, the church will not act as a mediator.
Maribel Jaén, of the Justice and Peace Commission, highlighted the level of discussions that took place and said they are an example that with dialogue agreements can be achieved.
Fire Chief Pablo Tuñón said there were no losers nor winners.
At about 11 a.m. it was reported that the methodology has already been defined for the dialogue between firefighters and the leadership of the department.
The mediator of this dialogue is Catholic Priest Eusebio Muñoz.
At the end of the day, he will give a report on the progress.
Earlier, A group of firefighters insisted that Lt. Cruz Gómez, who was fired last week for organizing protests, be reinstated before a dialogue on outstanding issues could begin.
The dialogue was supposed to start this morning. But some firefighters said they will not start the discussion until the issue of Gómez's employment has been resolved and the government pledges not to seek reprisals against other organizers.
Firefighters said they are doubtful that a consensus on wage issues can be reached.
Gómez said that firefighters are worried that the government will lie and "accuse the firefighters of going on strike."
"We do not understand because they have tried to divert the problem by saying that we are a union," Gómez said.
The dialogue came after a week of protests by firefighters that also included several members of the department, including Gómez, going on hunger strikes.
The talks are being held in the Ricardo Arango Headquarters on Avenida Cuba.
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