Councils forced to let go 5,000 workers in 18 months
CASH-STRAPPED councils have been forced to let go almost 5,000 workers in the past 18 months.
The job cuts follow a drastic downturn in local authority finances which have been hit with huge falls in income from commercial rates, development levies and cuts in government funding.
New figures show some 4,992 jobs were lost between June 2008 and December last year in the country's 34 city and county councils.
Dublin City Council has accounted for most of the losses, where 846 jobs were lost. Another 600 went in Cork County Council.
Most of the affected workers were on short-term contracts which were not renewed after Finance Minister Brian Lenihan ordered councils to reduce payroll costs by 3pc.
An early retirement scheme has also been accepted by some workers.
The County and City Managers Association (CCMA) admitted the cuts have had an impact on services.
Opening hours for libraries and recycling centres were already affected, but chairman Ned Gleeson said managers were forced to work within the new budgets.
"There has been a reduction in the number of permanent employees in the sector through a combination of natural wastage and the promotion of an early retirement scheme, although its impact varies across the sector," he said.
"Naturally this can affect the delivery of service by local authorities. Local authorities are operating within the confines of the National Pay Agreement Model and are adhering to the government embargo placed on the recruitment of new staff in the public sector.
"Through this framework the number of staff employed by local authorities has reduced. All staff on contracts, who would mostly have been employed on capital projects, have been phased out. This is common throughout the sector."
The figures were provided in response to a Dail question to Sinn Fein TD Arthur Morgan.
A spokesman for trade union IMPACT said the jobs lost "were providing vitally needed services to local communities".
"While IMPACT has worked through the 'handling significant change' protocol to minimise the effects of job losses, the scale of the cuts is likely to affect local and community services for years to come."
He added the union was pursuing a claim at the Labour Relations Commission for increased redundancy terms in local authorities.