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Galway City Council’s staffing crisis


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Galway City Council’s staffing crisis Galway City Council’s staffing crisis

Galway City Council now has more than 100 posts waiting to be filled – but low salaries are turning away potential candidates, it was claimed this week.

In a spirited defence of her department, Ruth McNally – director of services of corporate services, corporate governance, human resources and ICT – said criticism of the HR unit was unfair.

In January there were 104 posts that had to be filled. There were 21 staff recruitment competitions planned by the end of March with another 31 posts to be advertised over the rest of the year.

A panel of applicants was drawn up for five vacancies in January, but none of them accepted the job offers, she explained.

“We don’t have a choice what we pay people. Salaries for a lot of technical posts are way out of kilter “

In 2019, 67 new staff joined the Council, and last year that number was 97 – each new employee required a great deal of office work, she explained.

The HR unit itself had 30 per cent fewer staff in the last few years – they currently had 14 people there.

Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the Council had the go-ahead to recruit 70 new people this year, but the vast majority of those positions would be recruited in the second half of the year.

But it was proving extremely difficult to recruit certain staff at the grades the council had to pay.

A technician who typically spent up to four years in college was only allowed to start off on a salary of €27,000.

“There’s a high turnover at those grades, there’s far better renumeration in the private sector with full remote working. We’ve had 300 new people join since 2019 but there’s a net gain of 27.”

One fifth of the workers in senior roles had retired in the last five years, which was a “huge brain drain in the organisation”, he told the meeting.

The council had asked for a derogation to recruit staff themselves rather than having competitions held by the Public Appointments Service but were unable to secure one. This meant it was taking longer to fill vacancies, one year and a month was the average length of time to recruit senior employees, up to four times longer than if it was done locally.

Applicants who had worked in Australia had to get Garda clearance from overseas, which was taking up to six months.

The Chief Executive said the 59 recruitment competitions the HR department would undertake in a year would match any private sector body.

It was also false to say Galway City Council was missing out to Galway County Council when it came to recruiting staff – more staff had come from the county than the other way around, Mr McGrath insisted.

But he admitted there was strong competition between local authorities when it came to recruitment.

Mayor Clodagh Higgins said every sector was struggling to find staff. She met one senior manager who had offered a job to an engineer, who was later offered €30,000 to stay where he was.


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