Unprecedented crossparty support for Fórsa industrial action

by Gazette Reporter
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Rachel Cunningham and Rose Barrett

At least 12,000 workers across local authorities nationwide are expected to participate in Fórsa’s ongoing industrial action this week. The action commenced on Monday last, with unanimous support from crossparty councillors in Dublin.

Speaking on behalf of Dublin City Council, Cllr Daithí Doolan (SF) stated: “Councillors for all political parties fully understand that this action is an attempt to resolve the ongoing staffing crisis in local authorities across the state. Group leaders from the political parties on DCC have signed letters to Minster Darragh O’Brien, the LGMA and the City Council Chief Executive.

“These communications expressed support for the essential and important work carried out by local authority staff and urged Minister O’Brien and LGMA to address the issues around job evaluation and pay as a matter of urgency.”

Fórsa has been calling for staff evaluation within the public sector as employees were aggrieved there was no recognition of additional work carried out, often above the staff member’s pay grade.

“Minister O’Brien must show leadership and end the staffing crisis now,” said Cllr Doolan. “This industrial action will have a very worrying impact on the ability of councillors and TD’s to fully represent our constituents.”

Public representatives in South Dublin and Fingal also indicated their support for council workers undertaking industrial action this week.  While local authority staff will continue to carry out their day-to-day duties, the action means there will be no response to non-statutory representations from elected members, such as TDs, councillors and senators, etc. 

Fórsa has highlighted that almost 10,000 council jobs were lost following the financial crisis. The union claims that services were only maintained because staff took on additional responsibilities above their pay grades.  

Cllr Madeleine Johansson (BP) expressed her support for the union staff in South Dublin County Council. She too noted through the absence of job evaluation, some workers should be getting paid more for the work they are doing.  

“Local authorities have had funding slashed since the recession and workers taken substantial pay cuts during that time,” said Cllr Johansson. 

Fingal also unanimously passed a motion submitted by SF at Monday’s council meeting in Swords: “That Fingal County Council stands in solidarity with Fórsa members in Fingal and other local authorities across the state as they commence industrial action to address issues around job evaluation and pay; FCC supports their call for a formal job evaluation process to ensure workers jobs are properly graded and enumerated.”

The LGMA declined to respond to Gazette enquiries. Minister’s O’Brien’s office did, however, note that “This action follows engagement at the Workplace Relations Commission in relation to job evaluation, attended by the LGMA representing local authority management. 

“The LGMA has consistently advised Fórsa that this issue is broader than the local authority sector and should be dealt with at central level on a public sector wide basis.  

“Following the WRC engagement, it was open to Fórsa to refer the matter to the Labour Court, instead they have chosen to commence industrial action, contrary to the provisions of the public sector pay agreement Building Momentum. Should Fórsa wish to follow the established processes within the State’s Industrial Relations procedure the LGMA, on behalf of local authority management, will engage with same.”

Cllr Doolan concluded the blame for the industrial action lies not with the local authority staff but soley, with the government.

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