SIPTU Local Authority Professional Officers (LAPO) has backed a campaign of industrial action in order to ensure the public ownership of water services, through a constitutional referendum, at their conference in Portlaoise, county Laois today (Thursday, 12th May). Addressing the meeting, SIPTU LAPO chair, Stephen Lahiffe, said: “We support a ballot for industrial action, up to and including strike action if there is any attempt by the Government to roll back on its clear commitment to hold a constitutional referendum to safeguard the public ownership of this vital utility.” He added: “This is an issue of key importance to our members, all local authority workers and the public. It is also an aspect of the wider issue of the outsourcing of local authority services which results in lesser and more costly services for the public.” SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “A referendum on the public ownership of water services is a key demand of the trade union movement in our ongoing talks with the Government on this issue. I believe it must be secured and can be secured in order to protect our water services for future generations.” LAPO Organiser, Brendan Carr, said: “The protection of public water services is a major concern of all those who value good quality services in Ireland. It is clear from the discussions at the LAPO conference today that these key local authority workers are committed to creating better and more efficient public services which are under the democratic control of people in Ireland.” SIPTU LAPO organises approximately 2,000 Local Authority Professional Officers working in various roles within councils across the country including as engineers, archaeologists and urban planners. Delegates representing these workers met for a one-day conference in the Midlands Hotel, Jessop St, Moneyballytyrrell, Portlaoise, county Laois.