Noonan hopes Irish Water follows through on bonus move

Siptu to meet management at utility company over decision to cancel 2014 payments

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said he hopes Irish Water “amicably” follows through on a decision to not pay staff bonuses for this year given the “difficulties” at the utility company. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said he hopes Irish Water “amicably” follows through on a decision to not pay staff bonuses for this year given the “difficulties” at the utility company. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said he hopes Irish Water “amicably” follows through on a decision to not pay staff bonuses for this year given the “difficulties” at the utility company.

Irish Water yesterday said its entire pay structure would be reviewed and that staff would not receive bonuses for this year which were due to be paid in 2015.

Trade union Siptu has said it will not accept any unilateral changes to the terms and conditions of its members employed by Irish Water.

The union said while it was not a fan of merit-based payment systems, workers had signed up for one and it could not stand over people potentially having 6 per cent of their earnings taken away.

“We will engage with the company, but we will not apologise to anybody to try and defend modestly paid workers to ensure they get simply what they signed up to,” Siptu organiser Adrian Kane told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Siptu is meeting Irish Water management this afternoon and Mr Kane said he hoped a “negotiated settlement” could be reached.

“We’re not going to accept a situation where the ordinary workers in Irish Water are a scapegoat for a very unpopular water tax.”

Asked about the matter as he arrived at Government Buildings for this morning’s Cabinet meeting, Mr Noonan said the board of Ervia (Irish Water’s parent company) had made its position on bonuses clear.

“I hope they carry that through amicably. I think that everybody understands there has been difficulties and I think the people who work in Irish Water understand that very well also.”

Bonus structure

The proposed bonus structure at Irish Water created controversy when revealed last month.

It stated that staff rated as needing improvement would still be entitled to a bonus of between 1.5 per cent and 9 per cent of their salary, depending on grade.

Those whose work “meets expectations” were entitled to a bonus of between 2.75 per cent and 14 per cent, and where performance “exceeds expectations”, the bonus was to be between 4 per cent and 17 per cent depending on grade. The rewards model used is the same as the one at Ervia, formerly Bord Gáis.

Senior management whose work “far exceeds expectations” will receive a 19 per cent bonus.

A statement from Ervia said performance-related bonus would not be paid for 2013 either.

“Ervia has decided not to pay 2014 performance-related awards to Irish Water employees,” the statement said.

“This includes any performance related allowances being considered in relation to 2013.”

An Ervia spokesperson said: “The decision reflects the fact that at the end of 2014, Irish Water has not yet earned sufficient public confidence.

“We made this decision in the best interests of Irish Water and the wider Ervia group to show we are listening to the public.”

An Irish Water spokeswoman said bonuses for work done in 2015 - which would be paid in 2016 - will still be available but would be a matter for the independent review of pay structures.