Workers vote on possible strike action

Services provided by outdoor Tipperary County Council staff could be in jeopardy.

A section of the outdoor staff working on roads are voting this week to decide if industrial action will be taken.

Members of the Unite and SIPTU unions are in dispute with Tipperary County Council over a specific bonus payment.

The issue affects 97 outdoor road staff. The county council has a total of 450 outdoor staff.

The matter has been the subject of Labour Relation Commission and Labour Court hearings since 2010.

The Labour Court adjudicated on the matter in 2014, recommending a compensation payment to workers and the exit of the County Council from the bonus scheme.

County Council management say the compensation payment was made in line with the Labour court recommendation to allow the authority to exit the bonus scheme. Unions involved say their members rejected the Labour Court recommendation and the council proceeded to pay workers the compensation despite unions asking the authority not to pay it.

The specific bonus scheme was paid to workers of South Tipperary County Council in the outdoor roads section. It was not paid to outdoor roads staff in Clonmel Borough Council or any of the town councils that existed in South Tipperary prior to the merger of the two county councils. The payment did not exist in North Tipperary CountyCouncil.

United official Tony Kelly said the workers involved began to cast their votes on the issue last week.

The ballot will be concluded this Friday at the Cahir House Hotel at 4pm and the outcome of the vote will be made known.

Mr Kelly said the workers were being asked to decide on taking action up to and including strike action.

“Our members rejected the outcome of the Labour Court but the Council went ahead and paid out the compensation amount to exit the scheme and ignored our request not to pay it,” said Mr Kelly.

A Tipperary CountyCouncil statement said the authority had engaged extensively with unions and staff representatives over a number of years to resolve the matter.

The Council had fully accepted the Labour Court recommendation and complied with it. A review of the bonus scheme, agreed in consultation with unions, began in 2010 in light of a significant reduction in funding for local authorities in areas including road grants and a 25% reductionin staffing across all service areas..

The bonus scheme cost €600,000 a year.

“The continuation of the bonus scheme was both uneconomic and unworkable” concluded the statement.

Deputy Mattie McGrath said the mechanism for bonus pay was in existence since 1959

“There is anger and deep frustration among staff about the loss of this bonus payment” he said.