Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels. Irish Water has entered into service level agreements (SLAs) with each local authority for the provision of water services. Staff members working under these arrangements remain local authority employees while continuing to perform key water services functions with local authorities acting as agents of Irish Water. Staffing arrangements are an operational matter for Irish Water and local authorities within the context of the SLA arrangements currently in place.
Irish Water now intends to fully integrate its operations and end the current operational arrangements for the delivery of water services through the service level agreements with local authorities. In this context, on 19 September 2018, I received a report from the Director General of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in respect of a process of engagement that was undertaken at my request with the parties involved in the transformation programme for Irish Water, those being Irish Water, ICTU and relevant affiliated unions, local government management and my Department. The discussions with the parties have advanced on the basis that the current SLAs remain in place until such time as an alternative is agreed.
In response to the WRC report, I have asked the parties to engage in a process to work towards the development of a stable structural and operational framework for the future. This engagement, through the WRC, is to commence in the coming weeks.