AS MANY as 1,000 workers are set to leave the local authorities within the next few months over Government changes to their pensions.
Already, 6,600 council staff have left the public service since the Government imposed a recruitment moratorium two years ago. This leaves just 30,600 local authority staff to run increasingly underfunded local services.
A total of 8,500 public servants are forecast to retire before radical changes to their pensions kick in next February.
Of these, as many as 1,000 are expected to come from the local authorities, sources told the Irish Independent yesterday.
The councils will provide at least 10pc of the total numbers exiting the public service to protect their current pension entitlements. Estimates indicate that the number of council workers opting to go will be between 850 and 1,000.
The departure of so many council staff is bound to prove a big headache for city and county managers, who will have to try to protect key frontline services.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan has conceded that it will not be possible to maintain services with a blanket embargo on recruitment.
County managers can make representations to the Department of the Environment for staff where vital services are threatened by staff departures.
These include fire and emergency services, water, roads maintenance, housing and some capital projects.
"The moratorium will remain and the filling of key posts in local authorities will require the sanction of the department," the minister added.
Of the 6,600 who retired from the councils between 2008 and this year, the bulk of them (78pc) had been employed on a contract basis.