SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan O’Brien said: “In our first engagement with the Minister and department officials last week, he said that he wanted to engage with trade unions to achieve an agreed outcome on the establishment of a single public water utility as proposed in the Programme for Government. He also confirmed his intention to hold a referendum that can ensure that water provision remains under public ownership and control.  We agreed that, in further discussions with the Minister, SIPTU representatives will seek to protect the terms and conditions of employment of staff in the local authorities and their role in the provision of vital public water services, to progress the plan for a referendum and to determine the future of Irish Water.

“Since our meeting, media reports have suggested that some department officials would seek to weaken the agreed terms and conditions of staff in the water service. In our view, this would inevitably provoke industrial relations difficulties and disputes rather than achieve an agreement acceptable to all stakeholders, as proposed by the Minister.”