Sinn Fein councillors support council workers in industrial dispute

THE Sinn Féin’s elected representatives on Cork County Council have vowed to stand with council workers in their industrial dispute with council management.

SIPTU has balloted over 350 Cork County Council workers and voted in favour of industrial action, up to and including strike action, in a dispute over staffing levels.

Union organiser Con Casey said management’s failure to replace workers as they retire has led to key sections of the council in road maintenance, housing and other essential services, now being seriously understaffed.

West Cork Sinn Féin Cllr Paul Hayes said “It is regrettable, but not surprising that things have come to a head like this. There are over 400 less outdoor council staff in County Cork compared to staff levels in 2008, with an embargo on recruitment and replacement of retiring staff members up until recently. Frustrations have now surfaced between council management, staff and their unions as vital public services are suffering due to understaffing.”

Cllr Hayes continued, ” We have a situation where Cork County Council spent €3.8 million on consultants and nearly €870k on external legal fees last year but has failed to replace retired road and housing maintenance staff. It’s unacceptable that Cork County Council has seemingly no limit on consultants fees but then doesn’t replace vital staff who retire.

“This is a serious imbalance which is having a massive negative effect on frontline works. The council needs to start employing more ground staff immediately and move away from the privatisation of vital services.”

Urging council management to engage with staff and their unions before the situation escalates further, Cllr Hayes said “If council workers decide to strike and picket council buildings,  the Sinn Fein team will not cross the picket line in support of the staff and we urge fellow councillors to do the same. Hopefully, both sides will sit down to discuss their grievances and come to an amicable agreement before the situation gets to that point.”