Water Services strike averted as Government concedes to SIPTU members’ demands
A nationwide strike by SIPTU members in local authority water services has been averted following the decision by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, to concede to their demands to have all their earnings protected if they do not transfer to Uisce Éireann.
SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Karan O Loughlin, said: “A strike which was to commence on 7th June and could have adversely impacted water services across the country has been averted by the intervention of Minister O’Brien.
“This evening (Friday, 2nd June) the Minister has written to SIPTU and categorically stated that workers who opt to stay in local authority employment rather than transfer to Uisce Éireann will have all their earnings protected. The letter specifically includes guarantees in relation to workers’ allowances and overtime payments they accrue currently as part of their work. The letter gives concrete examples of how the earnings of our members will be protected and removes an attempt by individual local authorities to renege on this commitment.”
She added: “This is a major success for our members who had been forced to schedule strike action that would have had a far-reaching impact. The concession by the Minister to their demands is a testament to the power of workers when they stand in solidarity with their colleagues to protect their interests.”
Local authority worker and chair of the SIPTU water workers national negotiating committee, Stephen Kelly, said: “This was a very challenging situation for local authority water workers. Their level of commitment to the communities that they serve is very strong and this decision to take industrial action was not taken lightly.
“The demand from our members was simple; that the Government provide cast iron guarantees that a commitment that their earnings would be protected if they do not transfer to the new national water utility would be honoured. We believe we have now secured such a guarantee from the Minister in a manner which will not allow individual local authorities to deviate from it.”
SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan O’Brien said: “The protection of our members earnings was a commitment given by local authorities and the Government in the Framework for the Future of Water Services document which lays out the move towards a national public water utility.
“Unfortunately, as this document was being implemented it became clear certain local authorities were not living up to the protection of earnings commitment. This forced our members to vote for strike action which they were to commence next Wednesday (7th June). It is to be welcomed that the Minister has seen sense and provided the guarantees which were demanded.”