Up to 90 Council staff to ballot on strike action

Dispute over fears of Irish Water jobs cull

Up to 90 staff members of Roscommon County Council will ballot for a strike next month because of a dispute with Irish Water.

  The row arose after the utility announced last week that it would reduce its employees by 1,200 over the next six years.

  However, Siptu, which represents a great number of the staff affected, said this would be an unacceptable breach of agreements on the operation of the utility, and would be a clear move towards its future privatisation.

  Around 3,000 staff members of local authorities throughout the country provide a service to Irish Water. The utility pays their wages, but they remain employees of their local authorities.

  “We will be balloting all of our members who are working in water and sewerage services in all local authorities nationally, including those in Roscommon County Council, for industrial/strike action,” said Anthony McCormack, an industrial organiser with Siptu.

  The ballot will take place between November 9 and 19, with a result to be declared the following day.

  The Lapo trade union will also ballot it members for identical action.

  Siptu said that a service level agreement had previously been reached with Irish Water that would see employees provide a service for 12 years.

  Brendan O’Brien, Siptu’s sector organiser, said: “Our union will vigorously resist any attempt by the management of Irish Water to reduce the number of workers providing this essential service.

  “Siptu members are demanding a strong and unequivocal commitment from Irish Water that it intends to fully honour the terms of the service level agreement.”

  Irish Water said that they would bring about operational efficiencies of €1.1 billion through a programme of transformation in how water services are delivered up to 2021.

  A spokesperson added: “Of this €1.1 billion in efficiencies, approximately one-third or €370 million will be made through payroll savings and a reduction in operations staffing of 1,500, based on the 2014 figure.

  “A reduction of 300 has already been achieved through retirements, redeployment and non-filling of vacancies as they arise.

  “A further reduction of 1,200 will be brought about through consultation under the service level agreement and transformation plan already agreed with local authorities.”