Belfast Telegraph

Irish Water won't pay staff bonuses

Embattled Irish Water will not pay staff any bonuses for this year or last because of a lack of public confidence in it.

In the latest twist in the calamitous introduction of a tap tax, bosses have said they will freeze controversial top-up payments ahead of an independent investigation into salaries.

Senior staff were in line to pocket annual bonus payments of up to 19% as part of a contentious "reward" scheme.

Under the bonus plan, even workers who are deemed to be underperforming - or who "need improvement" - are entitled to top-ups amounting to as much as 9% of their yearly salary.

Just weeks ago management at Irish Water defended the payments.

But amid mounting protests over the new levy, and ahead of the Government's announcement on revised charges, Irish Water confirmed it would not be paying the bonuses for the past two years.

"The decision reflects the fact that at the end of 2014 Irish Water has not yet earned sufficient public confidence," a spokeswoman said.

"We made this decision in the best interests of Irish Water and the wider Ervia group to show we are listening to the public."

Ervia is Irish Water's parent company, formerly known as Bord Gais.

The semi-state commercial organisation said it has begun an "independent review" of the pay model in Irish Water.

"This review will recommend an appropriate pay model that will be applied in the future," the spokeswoman added.

"The new Ervia board and the Government (as shareholder) will be asked to approve any pay model before it is implemented for Irish Water."

An Irish Water spokeswoman could not give details of who will carry out the independent review, when it will be completed or if it will be made public.

"The review has been initiated, and is in the planning stage," she said. "All the details have not been finalised and the review process has not commenced."

Right2Water, an umbrella group opposed to water charges and backed by five trade unions, urged a spectacular and peaceful turnout for a national demonstration in Dublin on December 10.

Spokesman Brendan Ogle, of Mandate, said anyone intent on causing trouble should stay away.

"If there are a very small number of individuals - and that's all it would be - who do not believe they can restrain themselves to peaceful protest they should stay away," he said.

Referring to increasingly heated demonstrations over recent days targeting several leading government figures, who have claimed thuggish and sinister elements are involved, Mr Ogle said some of the incidents were serious but overall they were negligible.

"Anything other than peaceful protest will damage this campaign," he added.

Right2Water is backed by Unite, Mandate, the Civil Public and Services Union, the Communications Workers' Union and Opatsi, the plasterers union of Ireland.

Responding to latest reports that the water charges will be postponed until after Christmas, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said clarity would be brought to the imminent levies tomorrow.

An announcement is expected in the Dail during the afternoon.

Mr Kenny said demonstrators who blocked his car during a Fine Gael event in Sligo last night had "scant regard" for women and children who were there at the time.

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