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Workers back strikes in row over Irish Water job cuts

Council workers contracted to Irish Water have voted for possible strikes over plans to cut more than 1,000 jobs from the workforce by 2021.

Siptu and the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) said the opposition is to prevent the privatisation of the company through the hiring of outside contractors.

Unions have claimed the level of front-line staff could be cut by 40% if the management plan is successful.

Irish Water revealed the drastic plans in October - estimated at 1,200 to 1,500 job cuts since the much-maligned utility was set up.

The company said the workforce reduction would involve redundancies, retirements and redeployments as it strives to save 1.1 billion euro by 2021.

Siptu members voted 91% in favour of industrial action over the cuts, including the potential for work stoppages, with the TEEU backing the action with 84% support.

Brendan O'Brien, sector organiser with Siptu, said: "The result of this vote represents a very strong mandate from our members to fight the creeping privatisation of the public water service.

"The concerns of local authority water workers about the threat to public water services has led their decision to take industrial action when and if necessary.

"We do not accept that the public water service can be adequately delivered with the planned reduction of front-line staff."

Unions claim the jobs plan is a unilateral announcement which broke a 2013 agreement on commitments to hold talks ahead of any cuts, and they are planning to meet management on the issue next Thursday.

TEEU official Paddy Kavanagh said: "We will set out the position of our members and depending on the response of the company, and following further consultation, decide on what course of action will be taken."

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