SIPTU to ballot water staff on strike action

SIPTU is preparing to ballot members employed in Council water services in Co Leitrim on strike action as part of a nationwide response to the transfer of staff to the Irish Water utility company.

SIPTU is preparing to ballot members employed in Council water services in Co Leitrim on strike action as part of a nationwide response to the transfer of staff to the Irish Water utility company.

The SIPTU Local Authority Sector Committee is currently conducting a series of regional meetings of the 2,500 union members employed in local authority water services, which include caretakers, network staff, plumbers and inspectors. The meetings were convened following a decision by the Department of the Environment to begin the transfer of water service assets and SIPTU members’ duties to Bord Gáis and sub-contractor companies. It is estimated that around 30 people are employed in the water services by Leitrim County Council.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Michael Wall, said; “Contrary to all assurances given previously the Department of the Environment is proceeding with the transfer of assets and work in the water services to an outside agency and private contractors. No discussions have taken place, no forum for consultation has been established and no assurances concerning future terms and conditions of employment have been given to workers who have provided a professional service to the Irish public for generations.”

He added; “The ballot for industrial action, including strike action, will commence in the coming weeks and cover all local authority areas.”

A spokesperson for Leitrim County Council confirmed they had yet to receive official notification of a ballot for strike action. “However, it is expected that existing protocols would be followed in the event of such action progressing,” they said.

At the recent monthly Council meeting, councillors Martin Kenny and Paddy O’Rourke both tabled questions querying exactly how many staff were being moved from Leitrim County Council’s water service department to Irish Water and when this move was expected to take place. The councillors also asked whether staff would be given the option to transfer and what would happen to those who opted to remain in the employ of the County Council.

Responding to the queries Director of Services, Infrastructure, John McGuinness, said that “Leitrim County Council has received no indications in regard to this matter to date which is being dealt with at national level.”