Councillors show solidarity for striking Council workers at County Hall

Sinn Féin Councillor Sharon Benson

COUNCILLORS stood in solidarity with Fórsa union members in Limerick City and County Council this week in calling for a formal job evaluation process.

A Sinn Féin motion brought to the Dooradoyle chamber on Monday by Cllr Sharon Benson called for Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien and the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) to return to negotiations with Fórsa and to agree a mechanism for progressing the job evaluation process.

Speaking at this week’s full meeting of the local authority, Cllr Benson said: “The Local Government sector is in the midst of a retention and recruitment crisis. This is impacting on all levels of service provision.”

“At the centre of this crisis is the refusal of Government and the Local Government Management Agency to work with workers and their representatives to address issues around job evaluation and pay.

“Fórsa, one of the largest unions representing local government workers, has been calling on Government and the LGMA to undertake a formal job evaluation process to ensure workers jobs are properly graded and enumerated. Such ongoing job evaluation processes are standard in other jurisdictions.”

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She continued: “Despite initial engagement between the parties at the Workplace Relations Commission on this matter, the employer’s side are now refusing to negotiate. In turn, Fórsa members have initiated industrial action starting with an indefinite ban on engagement with all political representatives.”

“This will obviously have an impact on the ability of councillors to fully represent our constituents. However, the responsibility for this situation does not rest with the local government staff. The blame is solely the responsibility of Government and the LGMA.

“I am asking members to stand in solidarity with our local authority workers by supporting this motion.”

Social Democrats councillor Elisa O’Donovan seconded the proposal.

“I think it is very important for us as councillors to stand in solidarity with the local government staff who are members of Fórsa. They have been forced to take this industrial action because of the poor conditions they are facing in relation to job evaluation.

“As someone, who is also a member of Fórsa, I think it is very important that we have some sort of engagement meaningfully with the workers here and that some resolution is found,” she said.

Limerick City County Council confirmed to the Limerick Post that Fórsa members within the Council have been instructed by the union not to undertake the following tasks: engaging with emails, telephone calls, texts, or letters from councillors, senators, TDs (including ministers), and MEPs; assisting with councillor queries/parliamentary questions; participating in face-to-face discussions about work queries from publicly-elected reps; and providing routine updates from the Council centrally and at Municipal District level on issues such road closures, water, and street cleaning.

“The Council manages queries from the public through its Customer Relations Management systems. All queries continue to be logged and referred to the appropriate service manager as we work to limit service disruption,” a spokesman for the Council said.