SIPTU representatives explained that union members will not accept any attempt to force the transfer from their employment with local authorities to Irish Water, during a meeting today with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien. Along with other ICTU Unions in the Local Authority sector, SIPTU representatives were briefed by the Minister on the contents of his policy paper, which was adopted by cabinet earlier today, on the future of water services in Ireland. Among the proposals in the document is the establishment of Irish Water as a publicly-owned, national, standalone, regulated utility. SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane said: “At the meeting, we informed the Minister that SIPTU members will not accept any imposed solution on the future provision of water services nor will we accept a situation whereby staff of local authorities are forcibly transferred to Irish Water. “We emphasised that any proposed changes can only be achieved by agreement and that any deviation from the normal rules of engagement will result in industrial action. “We also reminded the Minister that there are a number of significant, outstanding industrial relations issues concerning water service staff in local authorities that need to be resolved before any negotiation process on his proposals can proceed. “In his response, the Minister accepted the Unions’ position that solutions could not be imposed and that the timelines as provided for in the policy paper were intended to focus discussions rather than as rigid dates for the implementation of pre-determined outcomes. We also noted that the policy document did not refer to Irish Water as a commercial entity.” SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan O’Brien said: “Since the foundation of the State, our members have a long and proud history of working in local authority water services. The chronic lack of investment in water infrastructure is the real crisis that needs to be addressed. This and other issues will not be resolved by the transfer of our members in the local authorities to Irish Water against their wishes.”