Frontline staff opposed to cuts

John Clinton, general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, who said today his association would leave the talks if they were focused on cuts to the terms and conditions of his members.

John Clinton, general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, who said today his association would leave the talks if they were focused on cuts to the terms and conditions of his members.


Trade unions and organisations representing more than 60,000 frontline staff in the public service have warned that they will take whatever collective action is necessary to protect their members’ income from proposed Government cuts under an extended Croke Park agreement.

Speaking today leaders of the 24/7 alliance, which includes organisation representing general nurses and midwives, psychiatric nurses, gardai and prison officers, said the measures proposed by the Government in current talks would disproportionately affect their members who receive a significant level of their earnings from allowances and premium payments for providing services on a round-the- clock basis.

The general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Liam Doran said as a group the alliance had today reaffirmed its outright opposition to the approach being taken by the Government in the current discussions on an extension to the current agreement.

He said the proposed Government measures were "totally targeted at the 24/7 people".

"These people are going to carry an unfair burden of the cuts under the current Government strategy."

“That cannot happen, will not happen and we will take whatever collective action necessary to protect our members' incomes.

The union representing prison officers has said it will not remain in talks on an extended Croke Park agreement if the process is only about attacking members’ premium payments and terms and conditions.

General secretary of the Prison Officers Association (POA) John Clinton said his union was trying to ascertain whether the current process was about the Government seeking to generate savings within the prison service or whether it represented an outright attack on existing terms and conditions of employment.

He said while the POA had no problem trying to reach a deal with the Government over savings "if it appears this is an outright attack on all our terms and conditions of employment that have taken 50 years to get in place, obviously we will have to walk away".

Mr Clinton said on the other hand prison officers were to the forefront in generating savings under the original deal and if the Government was serious about making savings it would not have a problem about trying to negotiate a deal.

Mr Clinton was speaking following a meeting today of the 27/7 alliance – a group of trade unions and organisations representing staff in the public service who provide services on a round-the-clock basis.

Separately an organisation representing ambulance service personnel said it wanted to lay down a clear marker for Government that its members would not tolerate further cuts in pay, either directly or through reductions in allowances under any extension to the Croke Park agreement.

The chairman of the National Ambulance Service Representative Association Michael Dixon said: "If the Government believes that balancing its budget means another cut in frontline public sector pay it is mistaken. The message from paramedics is clear and simple – the well of frontline pay is dry – we have no more to give."

He said that under the current Croke Park agreement, paramedics and advanced paramedics had shown their commitment again and again to contribute to increasing productivity and achieving efficiencies across the emergency services.

"We have accepted a reduction in pay of up to 30 per cent, punishing roster changes and extended hours. We have also engaged in continued professional development and seen the introduction of ‘green hours’ (unpaid hours accrued), continuous up-skilling and far reaching changes to work practices."