Local authority staff back industrial action over job evaluation

Local authority staff back industrial action . Staff outside the LGMA holding posters of love hearts, with the words job evaluation and love local government.

Fórsa’s local authority staff have backed industrial action over job evaluation, voting overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, up to and including strike action. Fórsa said the union is in dispute with local authority management due to its refusal to establish a job evaluation scheme for local authority staff.

The union represents more than 10,000 local government and services workers including clerical, administrative, management, technical and professional staff.

Job evaluation, which has already been established in the health and higher education sectors, is a process for measuring the relative worth of posts in an organisation based on the work a post-holder is doing or is expected to do.

Fórsa said many local authority workers continue to take responsibility for additional duties and responsibilities assigned to them during the economic crisis, when 10,000 jobs were lost from the sector.

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Addressing delegates at Fórsa’s Local Government and Local Services biennial conference, which opened this evening (Wednesday) in Cork, Fórsa national secretary Richy Carrothers said: “Fórsa balloted members working in local authorities because the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) is refusing to negotiate on this longstanding issue.

No choice but for local authority staff to back industrial action.

“The LGMA’s refusal to discuss the issue at the WRC (Workplace Relations Commission), where we convened in January, left members with no choice but to express their determination through this ballot for industrial action,” he said.

He announced to delegates that turnout for the ballot was 58%, with just over 85% voting in favour.

He added: “Local authority workers deserve a fair, open, and transparent system of measurement to ensure the work they undertake is appropriate to the grade in which they’re employed.

“We have a strong mandate now from our members, and this dispute isn’t going to go away by ignoring it, which is exactly what the LGMA has attempted to do.

“Job evaluation provides an agreed analytical system to ensure our members are getting the pay they deserve for the job they do. Fórsa’s efforts to secure a job evaluation scheme is a crucial part of our continuing campaign to ensure local authority pay is, above all else, fair.
“The LGMA needs to immediately return to due process under the auspices of the WRC. A small window of opportunity exists right now to resolve the dispute by engaging in meaningful negotiations and to avoid escalation of this dispute,” he said.

Mr Carrothers added: “If the LGMA fails to grasp the opportunity now, a summer of disruption is inevitable.

“Nobody wants that. Our members know this is the action of last resort, but they’ve expressed their determination to do what’s necessary to secure a meaningful negotiation process and a fair outcome.

“Fórsa representatives remain available for meaningful and solution-focused engagement.

“We won’t waste this huge industrial mandate from our members. No resolution can be achieved in this dispute unless there is an agreement with Fórsa on the introduction of an acceptable job evaluation scheme for local authority staff,” he said.

Mr Carrothers told delegates at the union conference that employers are now “on notice” that the union is finalising the timing and exact nature of any industrial action.

The union’s conference continues until Friday, alongside the union’s Services and Enterprises divisional conference. Fórsa’s Services and Enterprises division represents more than 7,000 workers in commercial and non-commercial semi-state organisations, as well as private companies in aviation and communications.