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Thursday, 14th September 2023

Fórsa members to escalate industrial action in local authorities

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Fórsa National Secretary, Richy Carrothers.

Fórsa members working in local authorities are to escalate their ongoing industrial action next week. 

The current industrial action is in response to the failure of local authority management to engage meaningfully with the union on the establishment of a job evaluation scheme for workers in the sector.

Job evaluation assesses if a job’s grade is properly matched to its duties and responsibilities.

Currently, the industrial action has seen an indefinite ban on non-statutory political representations from TDs, senators and councillors, which means that local government workers are not responding to routine queries and requests for information from politicians. 

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From next week, the industrial action will include a 24-hour email ban from 00:01hrs on Friday 22nd September, affecting all internal and external local authority email correspondence.

This will be followed by a 48-hour telephone ban on Tuesday 26th September and Wednesday 27th September, to include calls on all local authority phone lines, including online video call and social media platforms.

The union has said the escalation of industrial action has been forced by the LGMA’s (Local Government Management Agency) “strident” position in resisting the union’s claim for a job evaluation scheme.

Cathaoirleach of the Local Government and Local Services division, Michael Whyms said: “Local authority workers are central to local government, and our members are deeply committed to their communities. That’s why so many of them have been working above and beyond their grades for many years. 

“They know how much people all around Ireland rely on their services. But the LGMA’s refusal to engage meaningfully has driven this escalation,” he said.

Florie Hickey, a Fórsa member working in Roscommon County Council added: “Job evaluation is a fair and independent scheme that evaluates the merits of a person's job. If a local authority employee is found to be doing the work of a higher grade, then they should be receiving the recognition and pay for that grade. "Job evaluation is available in the HSE and higher education sectors so it should be available in local authorities. Why should we be treated any differently?”

Fórsa national secretary Richy Carrothers said: “Management representatives utterly failed to engage meaningfully in resolving this dispute, despite its commitment to do so in a joint referral to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

“There was no meaningful or constructive engagement from the employer side at conciliation hearings in July. Consequently, negotiations broke down. 

“The LGMA has failed the process, and local authority workers, and has betrayed the good faith of the joint referral to the WRC. 

“However, there is absolute determination among Fórsa’s membership to secure an appropriate job evaluation scheme in local government, and the action due to commence next week will illustrate that determination.

“Any attempts to circumvent or undermine the industrial action, or any attempts to intimidate or threaten Fórsa members engaging in this legitimate action, will likely lead to an immediate escalation of the dispute,” he said.

Fórsa represents more than 12,000 local government and services workers including clerical, administrative, management, technical and professional staff. 

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