Water services workers in Cork demand vote on service changes 

“The general feeling is of anger and frustration.”
Water services workers in Cork demand vote on service changes 

Water services workers seen demonstrating around the quays in opposition to the ending of a service level agreement which would change the future of water services. Picture: Howard Crowdy

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

Under a Government framework, 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.

John Mullins, a water services worker with Cork City Council, told The Echo the Government’s framework would see the “premature” ending of an existing service level agreement.

Pictured at the water service protest outside the SIPTU office in Cork were Martin O'Regan and Kevin Browne, Cork County Council with Charlie Earl, Waterford and John Brosnan from Buttevant. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Pictured at the water service protest outside the SIPTU office in Cork were Martin O'Regan and Kevin Browne, Cork County Council with Charlie Earl, Waterford and John Brosnan from Buttevant. Picture: Howard Crowdy

“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.

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 said.

Water services workers held a protest yesterday which commenced outside the offices of their main trade union, Siptu, on Lapps Quay.

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

“The general feeling is of anger and frustration.”

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.

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