Local authority 35-hour week stalled

2nd May 2012

A recent ruling by the Labour Court means that management plans to impose a standardised 35-hour week for all local authority staff has been at least postponed as discussions continue.

Management had sought to impose the change from the end of April, claiming that it is entitled to do so under the Croke Park agreement. IMPACT has said the agreement does not allow the imposition of increased working hours for existing staff.

The union took the case to the Labour Relations Commission, which referred it to the Labour Court after the two sides failed to agree. The Labour Court has ordered the two sides to enter further discussions and says it will schedule another hearing within eight weeks if they fail to agree.  Under Croke Park the Court can ultimately make a binding ruling.

IMPACT national secretary Peter Nolan says the union has acknowledged the potential benefits of standardising working hours across local authorities over time. But he said Croke Park did not require existing local authority staff to work extra hours.

“Croke Park sets out very specific changes required in each sector, including local government. These do not include a requirement for increased weekly hours or reduced annual leave in the local authority sector. In education, by contrast, Croke Park is absolutely explicit that teachers must work an additional hour per week. It is inconceivable that the agreement could require a much more substantial increase in local authority working time without being at least equally explicit,” he said.

IMPACT successfully resisted management attempts to reduced leave arrangements for all local authority workers last year.

In the meantime, the union has convened a meeting of representatives from all local authority branches whose members would be affected by the proposed changes.