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Union seek compensation for 'nixers' clampdown

IRELAND'S BIGGEST trade union may seek new conditions and pay rises for local authority engineers and technicians in the face of a clampdown on freelance work.

The SIPTU union has intervened after the Irish government warned that it may order changes to staff 'codes of conduct' after a nationwide probe into council staff carrying out private work or 'nixers'.

The union represents around 1,300 corporation and council engineers.

'If measures are extended beyond what the present position is, then we will have to evaluate what impact that has on our members, ' said SIPTU union local authority professional officers branch secretary Frank O'Malley.

Announcing the results of the investigation last week, Irish environment and local government minister Noel Dempsey said that 51 staff including engineers had so far been cautioned for malpractice after taking on freelance work.

Dempsey said he intends to strengthen disciplinary sanctions and ethics provisions governing local authority officials.

Proposed legislation which already has new ethics provisions for local authority officials would also be revisited 'to see how (it) can be strengthened and further improved'.

'It is clear there is a need for more specific provisions relating to unacceptable practices by local authority officers and for the availability of a far wider range of disciplinary measures to deal with instances of misconduct, ' he said, adding that current sanctions only allowed for a week's suspension or dismissal.

The new codes could be enacted in the government's current legislative programme.

O'Malley said SIPTU would be waiting to see what specific provisions emerge before acting.

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