SIPTU members working in county and city councils across the country have today (Wednesday, 10th March) put the Government on notice that, if water service workers are forcibly transferred into Irish Water, thousands of local authority workers are fully prepared to take swift and immediate strike action. SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “Scores of delegates at our Local Authorities Sector AGM have made it absolutely clear that they will not accept any attempt by the Government to force them into Irish Water. They are fully prepared to take strike action and they have the full backing of our union.” Crucial talks involving the Government, Irish Water and trade unions representing workers employed by the local authorities in the delivery of water services are due to take place in the coming weeks. Adrian Kane added: “Our members believe that the priority must be to address the chronic lack of investment in water infrastructure and for the Government to step up to the many challenges facing local authorities across the country. At a time when all the global trends point towards huge efforts by governments to grow the public service, workers in our city and county councils are being caught in a pincer like movement. On one hand, we have the centralising tendencies of the Irish State and, on the other, we have the ever-present danger of out-sourcing to private companies. Something has to give.”  SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan O’Brien, said:  “The reality is that our national politicians have reduced the democratic powers of the locally elected representatives, starved local authorities of essential revenues and through the privatisation of services they have starved our members of potential work and ultimately local government of purpose.  Our members want to see this trend reversed at pace and to put power back into local authorities and to rebuild them for the 21st Century. The average spend across the EU on local government is 22%. Denmark, a country of comparable size to Ireland spends 64%. We spend a paltry 8%. It is not sustainable. Our members believe that this level of funding means local authorities are being deliberately set up to fail in order for private profiteers to come in and provide the services the State should be providing in waste, water and housing.”