Union warns Government over Irish Water plan

Proposal to bring council staff under control of utility ‘could jeopardise’ drinking water

A trade union has insisted that the move could be a stepping stone to water privatisation.

A trade union has insisted that the move could be a stepping stone to water privatisation.

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A trade union has said Government proposals to bring 3,500 local authority workers under the control of Irish Water could jeopardise the continuity of safe drinking and waste water supplies.

Representatives from Fórsa are due to meet Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy for talks on the matter on Thursday.

However, the union has insisted that the move could be a stepping stone to water privatisation unless a referendum to underpin public ownership and control of the utility takes place first.

It said Mr Murphy has “no chance” of winning support for his plan, which it described as “fraught with risk”, and which “could jeopardise the continuity of safe drinking and waste water supplies”.

“At our meeting with the Minister, we will demand that the Government speeds up proposals to have a constitutional referendum to guarantee that water services will always remain under democratic public control,” said Fórsa official Peter Nolan.

“We are deeply disappointed that the referendum has not been included in proposals, announced this week, for referenda next May,” he said.

Mr Murphy has invited unions to engage in a Workplace Relations Commission process aimed at creating a framework for the proposed move to a single water utility by 2021, which would be four years before the expiry of existing service level agreements.

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