Moves are underway to have temporary council workers positions in the Thurles area sorted out after they were let go last week, right in the middle of a major footpath refurbishment programme involving Matthew Avenue in Thurles.
One of the workers, who did not wish to be named, told The Tipperary Star that they had been informed that the funding was in place to have the job completed in Thurles which would see the workers remain in employment until into the New Year. However, the decision was made instead to let the workers go and to have the job finished by sub contractors. Temporary workers are normally let go for a period of time during the course of a calendar year, and then taken on again at a later stage.
The matter was raised at a meeting of the Thurles Area councillors last week and at a meeting of Thurles Town Council this week.
Cllr Micheal Lowry had been informed by Mr Michael Hayes, Senior Executive Engineer with North Tipperary County Council that Newport and Thurles areas had been particularly badly hit with layoffs, but that moves were underway to try and resolve this situation. Cllr Lowry said that it was essential that workers be taken on again as it was very difficult to get any work done on the ground without them.
At the meeting of Thurles Town Council, the Matthew Avenue project was praised by Cllr Evelyn Nevin who said that the work was badly needed. However, Cllr John Kennedy questioned why the work has stalled in recent times and was informed by the Town Clerk Mr Michael Ryan that due to frost it was deemed inappropriate to pour concrete and float off footpaths - the paths would be unravelling within a year if they did so, he said.
Councillor Jim Ryan said that it was ridiculous to be doing this kind of work in December and offered the view that it should have been done during the summer. However, the Town Clerk replied by saying that the workers were involved with other projects for much of the year. And, Thurles Town Manager Mr Matt Shortt also pointed out that a substantial portion of the year from September onwards was stagnant due to the stay put on expenditure by Minister for the Environment and Local Government Phil Hogan after he had pulled a large chunk of the Local Government Fund - this was later reinstated following a greater collection rate of the Household Charge.
At present Matthew Avenue is a sea of orange and white cones with the footpaths ripped out and some sections completed. Other sections have protective timber sheets covering them in order to prevent frost damage, while the models for paths have been constructed in more sections but remain unpoured at the time of writing.
It still remains unclear whether the temporary workers will be taken back on to complete the job or whether subs will be used.