Labour Court to rule on local authority working hours

The Labour Court will today hear the arguments for and against a ‘standardised’ 35-hour working week for certain local authority staff. IMPACT is opposing the proposals, which management wants to apply to over 5,000 IMPACT members working in clerical, admin, engineering, technical and related grades. Another 5,000 staff in the grades already work 35 hours each week.

The Labour Court is expected to issue a binding recommendation in the coming weeks under the terms of the Croke Park agreement.

Although the Croke Park deal contains no provision to increase working hours for these grades, management has argued that the change can be introduced under general efficiency clauses in the agreement. IMPACT has acknowledged a Croke Park commitment to standardise working hours across local authorities over time, but is resisting the imposition of increased working hours for existing staff.

The union argues that Croke Park sets out very specific changes required in each sector, including local government. These do not include a requirement for increased weekly hours in the local authority sector. In education, by contrast, Croke Park is absolutely explicit that teachers must work an additional hour per week. The union says it believes the agreement could only require a substantial increase in local authority working time if it was equally explicit.

IMPACT also points out that the Labour Court has adopted a reasonable approach for existing staff in other cases, including its earlier recommendation on annual leave. The union has also highlighted huge staff reductions and falling payroll costs delivered by local authority staff since 2008.