A group of Kerry County Council employees protested outside Tralee’s SIPTU office today, accusing the union of backtracking on its promises to them.
The workers from the council’s water services department were joined by water service employees from other local authorities in Tralee town centre this afternoon.
They say there’s uncertainty around their employment status as of next year.
The current Service Level Agreement between Irish Water and local authorities is set to expire at the end of this year, under plans introduced by the government.
This will begin a new phase of water service delivery, led by Irish Water, with local authorities phased out entirely by 2026.
After December 31st, water service workers in local authorities can voluntarily transfer to Irish Water, or seek redeployment to other departments in local authorities.
The workers were represented in negotiations about this agreement by trade unions including SIPTU.
Outside the SIPTU office in Tralee this afternoon, council water service staff said they were promised a vote on the next agreement, and SIPTU has backtracked on this.
Don Carroll, who has worked in water services with Cork County Council, joined locals at the protest today.
He says workers are concerned about losing their public servant status if they move to Irish Water, and SIPTU has not represented them in negotiations.
In response, SIPTU has told Radio Kerry News that the framework document mandated by workers, and delivered by trade unions, guarantees no forced transfer of local authority workers.
SIPTU says the document guarantees local authority workers' earnings and terms of conditions of employment are protected whether they stay in the local authority or move to Irish Water, and this has been clarified by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O'Brien.