Tipperary County Council is to lay off up to 16 temporary staff in the Nenagh Municipal District Councl area, according to Cllr John Carroll.
The Fianna Fail councillor accused the local authority of “letting staff go at a criticial time”.
The council generally lays of temporary staff over the winter, but Cllr Carroll told Nenagh MDC that lay-offs determine the quality of the roads for the coming year.
Saying that roadside gullies needed to be kept clear over the coming months, he also urged the council to talk to the IFA about the matter because they both shared common ground in keeping water off roads.
Cllr Seamus Morris asked for an audit of staff numbers north and south of the county.
“There is a shortage here and in the Thurles area, but there is more staff in South Tipperary. Why is this?” he asked. “We are very concerned about the lack of outdoor staff.”
Cllr Mattie McGrath urged that a case be made to the Departmenet of the Environment for temporary workers to be made permanent.
“I know they are entitled to their plush offices in Dublin, but if they had to drive the country roads they would have a different attitude,” he said.
Cllr Michael O’Meara said it was “vitally important” that the temporary workers be kept on.
“It is very shortsighted to be letting them go. Now is the time we need them to keep the roads clear,” he said.
He asked if the council had any information on lifting the embargo against recruitment to the public service that would allow the council to hire staff.
Cllr Morris believed the embargo had been lifted in South Tipperary but not in North Tipperary.
Cllr Ger Darcy, supporting the call for temporary workers to be made permanent, asked if the council had a plan to keep water off roads if the county were hit by bad weather.
Cllr Joe Hannigan, pointing out that there needed to be a “serious look” at staffing, said: “You can’t go to war without the soldiers.”
District manager Marcus O’Connor told the councillors that staff management and contracts were a matter for the CEO, Joe MacGrath.
“We have said that permanent staff numbers are too low and we have tried to make that case to the Department. We are still pushing that case, but, at the end of the day, we can’t fill jobs without permisssion,” he said.
Cllr Morris said that the council can’t keep waiting for an answer and that councillors would appreciate a briefing on the issue instead of having to come in year after year to discuss it.