Lack of clarity on future for local authority water services staff a concern

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A long serving water services employee with Tipperary County Council says the uncertainty surrounding a move to Irish Water is causing huge problems.

Eugene Dargan has worked with the local authority for 32 years with 28 of them in water – he is a member of the Unite Trade Union which was involved in the official strike action last week.

Their dispute centres on plans to transfer water services workers from local authorities to Uisce Éireann.

Eugene says SIPTU members – who make up the majority of water services workers in Tipperary County Council – were given a verbal agreement from the local authorities that they would continue to get overtime, rostered overtime and weekend allowances.

However this still remains a verbal agreement with noting in writing – UNITE members decided to strike last week because nothing had been done.

Speaking on Tipp Today earlier Eugen Dargan said workers who decide not to transfer to Uisce Éireann will be left in limbo.

“Well water is gone. There’s one of the plumbers out in the Goatenbridge area – he’s been his whole life in the Council. He’s never worked anywhere else – he was an apprentice plumber – came through the whole system.

“If he goes back to the local authority he might as well just take his tools and leave them at home because he’ll never be using them again. He doesn’t know where he’s going to be and that’s the problem – nobody in the County Council has said to him if you come back with us you’re going to be in roads, you’re going to be in housing or you’re going to be in a cemetery maybe digging graves maybe or whatever.”

Eugene Dargan says Uisce Éireann’s plans for Clonmel will have a major negative impact on supplies to the town.

During last week’s strike action the only plant to remain operating was the one at Poulavanogue which Uisce Éireann intend to shut down at the end of the year.
Eugene Dargan says this will have serious consequences.

“What they’re going to do is open up the line from Monroe into Clonmel so the while of the centre of Clonmel town, all the businesses and everything else are going to get extremely hard water. Okay the lime water is not harmful to the body but it’s disastrous to a house because all the metals in the house…people talk about kettles – kettles are only small fry. What you have is your dishwasher, washing machine, showers, gas boiler and heating system – they will all get attacked by lime.”