Staff to protest at first South Dublin council meeting

Staff will mount a protest outside at the first meeting of the newly-elected South Dublin County Council today (Friday). Yesterday the workers entered a second week of industrial action after management unilaterally cut the pay of 13 of its staff and revealed plans to do the same to another 150 workers.

IMPACT official Angela Kirk said the union had received a “very encouraging” response after it wrote to councillors seeking their support yesterday. “A number of councillors have already contacted us and I’m confident that the staff will have the support of the majority of elected members,” she said.

The union is to meet next week to consider its next steps including a possible escalation of the action, which has so far included a refusal to staff public counters between 12.30pm and 2.30pm, the withdrawal of cooperation with evening meetings, an overtime ban, and a refusal to carry out duties at a higher grade. The union says strike action is possible if council management continues to refuse to negotiate on the issue.

In her letter to councillors sent yesterday (Thursday), Ms Kirk said the industrial action was happening because council management had refused to deal with the situation through negotiations. The letter said: “The 163 staff earmarked for further pay cuts have been carrying out extra work with additional responsibilities – some of them for as long as 12 years. Now the council says they must continue to do this work, but it is taking away the extra payment – called an ‘acting payment’ – that goes with it.

“You will be aware that council staff have already experienced substantial pay cuts – averaging 14% – imposed on them in 2009 and 2010. Some of them (those earning over €65,000 a year) experienced a further pay cut in 2013. This is on top of the increased taxes and charges experienced by workers across the economy.

“Despite this, staff in the council have cooperated with far-reaching productivity measures in recent years, including increased working time, reduced sickness leave, changes to annual leave, and cooperation with many other reform measures. They have maintained the range and quality of services to the public despite a 25% cut in staff numbers since 2008.

“IMPACT has repeatedly told management it is willing to deal with the issue of acting payments. We just want a fair process to do this – not another imposition of pay cuts without consultation or negotiation. Staff in the council would very much appreciate your support in this matter.”

IMPACT says council management is in breach of the Haddington Road agreement and was effectively extending pay cuts to staff below the €65,000 earnings threshold set out in the deal. The union has also condemned management for refusing to discuss its proposals, saying that they were non-negotiable.