Water services workers to stage another protest in Cork city tomorrow

Between now and 2026, some 3,200 local authority water services staff will be asked to voluntarily transfer to Irish Water as permanent employees
Water services workers to stage another protest in Cork city tomorrow

Pictured on July 23: A protest march getting underway in Cork city by Cork Water Service Workers to protect their service level agreement. Another protest is set to take place tomorrow. Picture: Denis Minihane.

WATER services workers in Cork City Council and Cork County Council are set to stage another protest in the city tomorrow afternoon arguing that they are “entitled to a vote” on the planned changes for the future of water services.

Under the Government’s framework for the future of water services, Irish Water is to assume responsibility for all water services.

Between now and 2026, some 3,200 local authority water services staff will be asked to voluntarily transfer to Irish Water as permanent employees.

Those who do not wish to transfer to Irish Water can continue in local authority employment.

However, Irish Water will have responsibility for managing and directing water workers even if they remain in local authority employment.

It is the Government’s ambition that local authorities will no longer have staff working in water services beyond the end of 2026.

After this time, local authorities will no longer be involved in the public water system and staff would be reassigned to suitable vacancies in other areas of council work.

Speaking to The Echo ahead of a protest held by local authority water services workers in the city centre last month John Mullins, a water services worker with Cork City Council, said the framework would see the “premature” ending of an existing service level agreement.

“What this framework effectively means is that all public service water provision will be handed over to Irish Water on January 1, 2023, even though there is a service level agreement in place until 2026,” Mr Mullins said.

'NO SAY'

He claimed that water services workers have had “no say” on the planned changes. 

“Our unions are telling us we’re not getting a vote on it,” he added.

Following on from the protest last month, water services workers are holding another protest outside the offices of their main trade union, SIPTU, on Lapps Quay which is due to commence at 12:30pm. 

“We’re saying that democratically we’re entitled to a vote on this. This affects all our futures,” Mr Mullins said.

In a recent statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government told The Echo the framework “was recently identified through an engagement process facilitated by the Workplace Relations Commission” and that it will “enable Irish Water to work in conjunction with local authorities and current water services staff to complete the integration of public water services into its own organisational structure, as envisaged in the Government’s Policy Paper on Water Sector Transformation”.

“Public ownership remains central to the Government's vision for water services as is clear from the Policy Paper and the Framework document," the spokesperson added.

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