Fórsa has welcomed an invitation for further talks in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on the planned transformation of Irish Water. However, the union has warned that progress on the filling of permanent posts, which has varied drastically across different localities, was needed to ensure the continued progression of talks.
Fórsa’s head of local authorities Peter Nolan said that figures provided by the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) showed a worrying failure to adhere to an agreement on the headcount in local authorities, which requires 95% of posts to be filled on a permanent basis.
“While local authorities such as Kildare are compliant with the agreement, others are far from the agreed terms. In Cavan, just 67% of posts are permanently filled. Fórsa has authorised branches to initiate industrial action where discussions with local authorities have not resolved this issue,” he said.
Fórsa initially agreed to enter talks on the basis that they would yield movement on four separate strands:
• The future sustainability and revitalisation of local authority services
• A constitutional referendum on public ownership of water services
• The structure and governance of the proposed single water utility, and
• Employment and industrial relations issues that arise from the proposal.
Peter added that the unions would agree to a request for discussions on strand four to take place at a later date, but needed to see progress in discussions on strands one to three at the next meeting in the WRC.
He also said the union didn't accept that discussions on strand four should be time-limited.