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Council workers to protest against own unions in row over transfer to Irish Water


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WATER service workers are planning a protest at their union’s headquarters at Liberty Hall next week in a row over the transfer of 3,000 staff to Irish Water.

Local authority workers who are members of Siptu and Unite are demanding a vote on an agreement reached by unions, the Government and the utility company.

The agreement means they will be managed by Irish Water from January.

Otherwise, they can choose to remain working for their local authority employer on the same terms, but in different roles.

Some members of the group are demanding a referendum on the public ownership of water and have raised fears that water charges may be on the agenda at a later date.

John Mullins, a Siptu shop steward and Cork City Council employee, said workers will march to Unite headquarters before moving to Liberty Hall on October 14.

“The protest has become bigger and bigger,” he said. “On Friday, I’m going to the Dáil to sit down with a number of TDs. We’re basically just looking for answers which we cannot find in the framework document.

“We don’t take any enjoyment out of protests at our own unions, but feel we have no other choice because of the unions’ refusal to ballot us on a life-changing document.”

The worker say a framework agreement brokered at the Workplace Relations Commission ends existing service level agreements on January 1 instead of 2026.

The service level agreements mean they provide water services to Irish Water.

The Government’s aim is that councils will no longer have staff working in water services from January 1, 2027.

Mr Mullins said staff in some councils are concerned that the budget will not be available to keep them at work if they opt for redeployment. Others fear losing allowances and their public service status, he said.

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He claimed union officials gave assurances that the service level agreements would run their course.

A Siptu spokesperson said the union had no comment.

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