Wednesday 26 October 2016

Irish Water 'plans to cut 1,200 jobs over next six years'

WATER WORKS: The Minister of Environment, Alan Kelly, left and John Tierney, managing director of Irish Water
WATER WORKS: The Minister of Environment, Alan Kelly, left and John Tierney, managing director of Irish Water
Dr John Tierney, Managing Director of Irish Water pictured in his offices at the Irish Water HQ in Colvill House on Dublin's Talbot Street. 20/11/14 Pic Frank Mc Grath

IRISH Water is planning to cut a total of 1,200 people from its staff over the next six years.

The company is reported to be 'substantially overstaffed' and is 'under constant pressure to reduce costs', RTE reports.

It has a target of €1.1bn savings by 2021, and said one third of these savings will come from reducing staff members.

A total of 300 jobs have been cut since last year, but the company reports this reduction in staff members was through natural attrition and not filling roles that became vacant.

They told stakeholders this morning that the reduction in staff members up to now has been achieved without redundancies.

RTE reports the company  said they will continue this approach but said a voluntary redundancy scheme is also needed to reduce the staff numbers.

Last month, it was decided that Irish Water employees are to receive backdated incremental pay rises of up to 3pc following a recommendation from the Labour Relations Commission (LRC).

It was hoped the decision, on September 16, would end the ongoing row over the performance-based pay structure which was introduced in 2013 for Irish Water and Bord Gais Eireann (now known as Ervia), which was aimed at securing savings.

The new structure saw automatic incremental pay rises replaced by performance-related awards. There was also to be a pay freeze until 2016.

However, it was described as a bonus culture by critics as the controversy over Irish Water mounted last year.

The company responded to criticism by refusing to pay the performance-related awards for 2013 and 2014 and also refused to reinstate the increments.

The LRC criticised the company and recommended it reinstate the pay structure.

Speaking to RTE Radio One at the time, Group Head of Employee Relations at Ervia Mr Paul Dunne said it was always the company's intention to return to the pay model.

"We do accept [today's decision]," he said.

"We spent time at the LRC discussing this.

"We took a decision, and it was a difficult decision in 2014 not to pay performance-related awards under our pay system.

"The reasons [for removing the system] were very well outlined. It was a difficult time for the company, there was a lot of controversy around what was in our view misconceived as a bonus culture."

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