Limerick council staff vote for industrial action

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Council staff to take industrial action: Cllr James Collins, who questioned council boss Conn Murray on the action at last week's meeting, has criticised the 'autocratic style of management' over the council
STAFF at Limerick City and County Council have voted by a margin of almost four-to-one to take industrial action, including a work-to-rule.

STAFF at Limerick City and County Council have voted by a margin of almost four-to-one to take industrial action, including a work-to-rule.

A ballot carried out by Impact - which represents 400 council staff - to pursue industrial action was passed by 71% of its members.

Now, the union will seek talks with council managers on the structure of the combined local authority, plus changes to workflow and job descriptions, and the relocation of staff.

They say they want the council to produce “a viable organisational and staffing structure for discussion and agreement”.

“To date this information has not been made available despite over two years of discussion,” said Impact assistant general secretary Andy Pike.

If these talks break down, staff will commence a work-to-rule – and will no longer co-operate with any further operational changes.

All-out strike action, although not on the table following this ballot, has not been ruled out by Impact.

Impact’s office-based council staff sticking to their contracted hours will no doubt come as a blow to the local authority, which is often dependent on extra hours to get certain works done.

Impact delivered notice of the ballot to council management on Friday, and confirmed that if there was no response within ten days, they would move to work-to-rule.

“Definitive proposals should be put forward detailing the final structure of the new authority including the structure and function of departments and any significant changes to staff locations and working practices,” said Mr Pike.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail’s metropolitan district leader Cllr James Collins, who questioned council boss Conn Murray on the action at last week’s meeting, has criticised the “autocratic style of management” over the council.

“A lot of this comes from the CEO. He just makes decisions and ploughs ahead regardless,” Cllr Collins said.

When he raised the matter of the industrial action at last week’s full meeting, he said manager Mr Murray “dismissed the whole thing”.

“I asked if there is industrial action, what plans are in place. He did not say a whole lot. He did not seem too bothered,” Cllr Collins reported.

Mr Pike said the passing of a ballot for action “indicates the stance taken by the union seeking to call a halt to changes until such time a strategy is set out. What we need to do is give the council every opportunity to sit down around the table to sort this out, before it deteriorates further”.

He said he hoped the council “takes strong note of the staff’s feelings and put proposals forward to solve it”.

Cllr Collins added: “The public and councillors have had issues in relation to the level of service and management of the council. It is clear now staff feel so concerned and share our views.”

A spokesperson for the local authority said: “The Council won’t be providing any public comment as the issues you raised are dealt with through the Industrial Relations mechanisms here as is the norm.”