Many local authority staff to work more hours

Tue, Sep 11, 2012, 01:00

MORE THAN 5,000 staff in 11 local authorities will have to work longer hours from next March on foot of a binding Labour Court recommendation issued yesterday.

Under the recommendation, a minimum 34-hour working week is to be set for staff in local authorities around the country.

All newly recruited staff will have to work a 35-hour week.

Up to now there has been a wide variation in the number of work hours set for staff in local authorities.

The Labour Court recommendation said that in 18 of the State’s 34 local authorities, staff worked a 35-hour week.

However, in the remaining 16, staff worked a variety of hours ranging from 32 hours, 55 minutes per week to 34 hours, 45 minutes.

Staff in Galway County Council have the shortest working week at 32 hours, 55 minutes.

In four local authorities – Clare, Meath, Limerick city and Galway city – staff work a 33-hour week.

The trade union Impact said the staff affected by the Labour Court recommendation were mainly in clerical, administrative, engineering, technical and related grades.

The Labour Court said outdoor staff in local authorities worked a 39-hour week.

Local authority managers had sought to introduce a standardised working week across the State under the provisions of the Croke Park agreement.

However, unions had contended there was no specific provision in the agreement to increase staff hours.

Impact had argued that an increase would constitute a reduction in pay rates which were protected under the Croke Park deal. It suggested that any increase in hours would trigger an entitlement to compensation.

In its recommendation, the Labour Court found that a 35-hour week should be retained for all personnel where this currently applied.

It also said that where full-time staff worked more than 34 hours and less than 35 hours, these arrangements should also be maintained.

However, it recommended that the working week of all other full-time staff who currently worked less than 34 hours should be brought up to this level.

It said there should be a pro-rata increase for part-time personnel or those who were job-sharing.

The Labour Court also recommended that a standard 35-hour week be put in place for all newly recruited or newly promoted staff in local authorities.

In lieu of claims for compensation, the Labour Court recommended that the additional hours come into effect from March 1st of next year.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin welcomed the court’s recommendation and said it represented “another step forward” for the Croke Park deal.

However, he said the local authorities involved “must ensure that management use the additional productivity to maintain and improve frontline services”.