More than 100 staff in Roscommon County Council are staging a one-day strike today in a dispute over flexi-leave that could have implications for all public service union members.
Their union, Fórsa, said the council's failure to allow workers take additional time off is anti-family and in breach of binding Labour Court recommendations issued last year.
The Labour Court ruled that Roscommon council staff should have the same rights as their colleagues through the local government sector, but Fórsa said no worker had been approved for flexi-leave in the past year.
Roscommon County Council CEO Eugene Cummins said Labour relations forums have backed his view that flexi-leave must be approved by a line manager based on the council's business and operational plans.
The council said the union is seeking to have an additional 13 flexible days leave per year, resulting in some staff having the potential to avail of in excess of 50 days leave per annum.
The widely available flexible working scheme allows staff to accumulate an extra day a month - up to 13 days per year - by working additional hours during their normal week.
The industrial action has national implications for thousands of public service workers in Government and local authorities and will be closely watched.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Cummins said he was complying with the Labour Court by insisting staff only generate flexi-leave with the permission of management.
He said if there was "a defined business" need staff could work additional hours and those hours could be transferred into flexi leave, but to date the problem had been that staff had been generating this leave without permission or purpose, rather than to suit the business needs.
He said he wanted to manage that process more effectively to ensure business continuity was maintained and it could be better audited.
Mr Cummins said the Labour Court had been very clear in its recommendation that there was not an automatic entitlement to this, it could not be generated at will and there had to be a business need for staff to work up extra hours.
Meanwhile, another union representing public sector workers is to ballot its members next week on industrial action in the row over flexi-leave.
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