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Council pays staff €75k for working in rain

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Dublin City Council workers. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Dublin City Council workers. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Dublin City Council workers. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

A GROUP of low-paid council street and park cleaners are singing in the rain after successfully fighting off attempts by management to abolish their €75,000-a-year working in the rain allowance.

This follows the Labour Court dismissing attempts by one of the country's largest local authorities, South Dublin County Council, to have a working in the rain allowance abolished for 27 outdoor workers at the local authority.

SIPTU industrial organiser Brendan O'Brien yesterday described the Labour Court ruling on the allowance as "a significant victory".

Mr O'Brien said the outdoor general operatives, based in the council's public realm division, "are very relieved by the ruling as this has been hanging over them for the past couple of years".

He said the working in the rain allowance is worth around €50 a week, or €2,600 a year, to each individual worker, representing around 10pc of the weekly pay of €400 to €500 for the workers.

A council spokeswoman said yesterday that the total annual cost to the council is approximately €75,000.

In its argument before the Labour Court, the council argued that the allowance is outdated as the claimants are provided with protective clothing and essential equipment to aid them in carrying out their duties in all weather conditions.

The council also argued that "the payment of the allowance can no longer be justified as it is not associated with an additional task that is over and above the normal duties of the workers concerned".

The council also stated that the allowance relates to the circumstances in which work is performed, and not to the duties themselves.

The local authority argued the payment of the allowance to the claimants is inequitable as they form part of a larger group of 140 employees carrying out similar tasks as part of their normal duties.

In its argument before the Labour Court, SIPTU contended that the workers are paid the allowance for working through inclement weather.

The workers' union said that so long as they are contractually bound to do so, they meet the criteria for payment of the allowance.

VICTORY

The union also argued that as the allowance is pensionable and has the status of an "allowance in the nature of pay", its cessation would adversely affect pension entitlements.

The matter came before the Labour Court after both sides could not reach agreement at local level or at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC).

Mr O'Brien said the victory is significant and that: "We very much welcome the Labour Court's ruling."

The council spokeswoman said the council "is currently examining the consequences of the Labour Court ruling".

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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