Press Release

Unions win strong protections for workers when Irish Water takes control of water services

Date Released: 24 June 2022

There will be no compulsory transfer of local authority staff to Irish Water when it becomes the single national water authority next year. This protection has been underpinned in a new ‘Framework for Future Delivery of Water Services,’ hammered out between unions representing water workers, Irish Water and local authority representatives in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

The robust measures in the framework will also protect pay, pensions and working conditions for staff who choose to transfer to Irish Water. It gives local authority water workers a range of options to choose from – including the right to remain in council employment – as the phased transfer of responsibly for water services is implemented between next year and 2026.

Talks on the framework intensified this week and concluded yesterday (23rd June). It applies to all local authority water staff including general operatives, craft workers, and clerical, administrative and management grades.

The framework will ensure that:

There will be no compulsory transfers of staff to Irish WaterThere will be no compulsory redundanciesLocal authority water workers will have the option of transferring to Irish Water on a voluntary basis Existing pay is protected, with the chance to earn more through individual or collective Irish Water performance rewardsExisting pension benefits are legally protected, with all local authority service taken into account for pension purposesOther working conditions, including hours of work, annual leave, sick pay, allowances, overtime, and work location will also remain the same or be enhanced Staff who transfer to Irish Water will receive a €3,000 incentive payment, Local authority water workers can also opt to remain in local authority employment on their existing terms and conditionsThere is a voluntary redundancy option for local authority water workersCollective bargaining rights will remain in place. 

Speaking on behalf of the group of unions, which includes Connect, Fórsa, SIPTU and Unite, ICTU Industrial Officer, Liam Berney, said the framework had achieved all the industrial relations objectives tabled by unions at the outset of the discussions. 

“No worker will be compelled to transfer to Irish Water and they have a range of options to choose from, each of which preserves their pay and working conditions including pensions. 

“We remain in discussions about other critical strands of the transfer process including the need for a constitutional referendum to underpin public control of our water services, and the need for renewal of the local government sector, including additional investment and the delivery of new services and programmes to rejuvenate local communities and serve the needs of our citizens,” he said.


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