Friday 23 March 2018

Unions in warning to Fianna Fáil over Irish Water jobs

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Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Trade unions representing Irish Water workers have warned they will vehemently oppose any redundancies in the event of the public utility being scrapped.

The Ervia Group of unions held an hour-long meeting with Fianna Fáil in Leinster House yesterday in order to discuss the party's plans to scrap charges and replace Irish Water with a slimmed-down body.

The meeting was requested on the back of growing concerns there could be redundancies arising out of Fianna Fáil's party's plans to replace the utility with a slimmed-down body.

Union representative Adrian Kane told the meeting, which was hosted by the party's Transport spokesperson Timmy Dooley, that any redundancies will be strongly opposed.

Mr Kane also outlined unions' demands for a referendum to bring any new utility under public ownership.

And it was claimed that any changes to workers' terms and conditions, in the event of the abolition of Irish Water, would also be resisted.

Mr Kane described the meeting as "encouraging" and said Fianna Fail has committed to engaging fully with unions in relation to their plans.

"We outlined our view that the public utility in its current form is the most effective vehicle for the provision of water infrastructure into the future," Mr Kane told the Irish Independent.

"If there is to be an alternative structure put forward, what we have said is we will not accept any redundancies."

But Mr Kane acknowledged that Fianna Fáil's policy on Irish Water is substantially different than Fine Gael's and that the potential for redundancies may not arise.

Fine Gael wants to maintain water charges and Irish Water as an entity.

Speaking last night, Mr Dooley insisted the party does not intend to seek compulsory redundancies in the event of the abolition of the utility.

The Clare TD added that a voluntary scheme would be put in place and that staff would be transferred to local authorities or to a new water directorate modelled off the National Roads Authority (NRA).

"We met representatives of employees of Irish Water at their request and the meeting was respectful and productive," Mr Dooley said.

"We look forward to holding more talks with the parties in the weeks to come. I am happy to stress that forced redundancies is not the Fianna Fáil position."

Irish Independent

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