Longford County Council members were assured that the jobs of 56 water services staff were secure for the next twelve years by County Manager Tim Caffrey.
Mr Caffrey expressed his view during the course of a discussion on a report regarding the effects of Irish Water staffing on Longford County Council.
Speaking on the report, Cllr Peggy Nolan (FG) said it did not address her concerns regarding the stability of the positions held by Council staff. At present there are 56 staff members employed by the local authority in water services.
Cllr Paul Connell (Independent) said the report indicated that there were 14 people employed in administration, 18 engineers and 24 employees engaged as caretakers and general operatives.
Noting that there were 10 caretakers, Cllr Connell said it seemed unusual that there were more engineers than general operatives.
Cllr Mark Casey (Independent) said he was outraged that this year’s household charge, which was promised for local authority services, will go toward paying for the setting up of Irish Water.
Cllr Mae Sexton said that the local authority had lost control of the services, but that elected representatives will be at the front line when taking criticism.
Director of Services for the Infrastructural, Environmental and Emergency Service Directorate, Jack Kilgallen said that the number of engineers is higher than general operatives because water is a food grade product requiring highly skilled engineers to maintain regulatory standards.
He said that the contract with Irish Water meant that the council employee jobs are secure for the next 12 years. Mr Kilgallen explained that the County Council acts as an agent for Irish Water and that nothing has changed for staff.
The Director of Services said that the critical mass of a national service means that water provision will become more efficient.
Mr Caffrey reiterated the point that the terms and conditions of staff have not changed and they will stay for the next 12 years. He concluded by saying: “It is true that we have given away an asset, but also given away the liabilities attached, we have to comply with legislation and I believe that Longford County Council will benefit in the long run.”