herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Irish Water employees who 'need improvement' will get €10k bonus pay

Irish Water CEO John Tierney
Irish Water CEO John Tierney

WORKERS at secretive Irish Water will receive bonuses even if they get a "needs improvement" rating on their work report, it has emerged.

The payments, which the semi-state's spin doctors have denied are bonuses, will be paid at rates of up to 19pc as part of a "reward" scheme.

It comes as a senior Government minister has questioned the structure of the company along with its communications policy.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said there were "real and serious issues" about the structure of the utility, the manner in which it was set up, and its communications strategy.

Should senior staff members at Irish Water be cited as needing improvement, they will receive payments of 9pc of their mid €90,000 salaries.

Administrative or technical staff with salaries of around €40,000 who get a "need improvement" rating will earn a bonus of 1.5pc a year.

The figures emerged as part of an investigation by RTE's This Week programme.

Bord Gais, which has changed its name to Ervia and is overseeing Irish Water, introduced the new scheme for reward payments last year.

Below CEO and director level, the only workers who will not receive a bonus in either company are those who fail to achieve expectations. No bonuses have yet been paid at Irish Water. They are based on individual performances, how the employee's unit performs and the overall performance of the company.

For staff members who meet - but do not exceed - all expectations a yearly 14pc reward has been allocated for senior managers, 6.5pc for middle-ranking employees and 2.75pc for the lower-paid.

But the largest bonuses are reserved for senior staff members who "consistently exceed expectations" or who "far exceed expectations".

Fianna Fail environment spokesman, Barry Cowen, has blasted the payments and called for a response from Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

"It has become increasingly clear that the Government needs to reign in the bonus- driven quango that it has created in Irish Water.

outraged

"The bonus regime that has been revealed today in documents seen by RTE's This Week will leave taxpayers outraged.

"The Government repeatedly told the Dail that Irish Water would not develop a bonus culture - this development exposes those assurances as cynical and untrue," he said.

But Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton has said that the payment of bonuses at Irish Water was a matter for the company.

"There is a freedom given to a commercial body to set its model but they have to be accountable and perform against very clear targets," he said. He also said that there was "room for improvement" at the company.

"There are difficulties, everyone sees there are difficulties in managing this and the board and the CEO have to be held accountable," he said

Over the weekend a number of ministers were privately questioning the position of Irish Water CEO, John Tierney.

"We are getting it in the neck here, but his position must be in question," one unnamed minister said.

Government sources said that detailed plans are being advanced to "shake up" Irish Water. However, junior finance minister, Simon Harris denied reports that the Government is plotting to restructure Irish Water management.

There was controversy at the start of the year when it emerged that the company had spent €180m on consultants during the set-up.

It has suffered further controversies since then over issues including its failure to deal promptly with queries.

The company has also consistently refused to release details about the number of people who have registered.

hnews@herald.ie

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