Impact urges acceptance of deal
Impact general secretary Shay Cody. His union's eventual stance on the new proposal will be crucial given it represents more than 63,000 workers, a membership which has the capacity to swing the overall vote. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
The country’s largest public service union, Impact is to recommend to its 63,000 members that they should vote in favour of the proposed new Croke Park agreement.
The union’s executive took the decision at a meeting this afternoon where it discussed the agreement reached this week on public service pay cuts and increment freezes.
Impact said its exec had overwhelmingly recommended that members accept the proposals. Impact general sec Shay Cody said the measures represented the best package that could be achieved through negotiation.
Separately, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation is to recommend that its 40,000 members reject the proposed new deal. Following a meeting of its executive the INMO described the proposals as “unfair, unbalanced, and hostile to a female workforce”.
Opposition to the Croke Park II proposals was intensifying in the trade union movement ahead of the Impact meeting.
Two teaching unions and the largest Civil Service union declared yesterday that they would be advocating rejection of the new arrangements to their members.
While the unions in question are not large enough to block the deal, their stance shows that the Government faces a big challenge to secure a workable majority in favour of the new pact.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said this morning the pay deal was absolutely fair and called on unions to back it.
Mr Kenny said securing agreement would be another big step to economic recovery.
“In the context of the additional €3 billion in spending cuts required by 2015, this contribution from payroll is absolutely fair,” he said t a conference of chief executives in Dublin organised by the business lobby group Ibec. “Implementing these savings by agreement with public service staff would be another big step on the road to economic recovery, and would send out a signal to the world that the Irish people are determined to ix our economic problems and restore the country to prosperity and full employment.”
The Teachers’ Union of Ireland, the Civil Public and Services Union and the Irish Federation of University Teachers each said last night that they will be recommending rejection of the deal in ballots of their members.
Speaking this morning, TUI general secretary John McGowan said the proposals were "unacceptable" and impacted "disproportionately" on lower paid teachers.
"It is precisely the sort of thing that this, or any other similar agreement should not do - in other words - to punish those on very low pay,"
Mr McGowan told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.
The CPSU leadership said the redeployment provisions in the new proposal would amount to “constructive” redundancy.
“The development is particularly worrying given a ruling by the Conciliation and Arbitration Board yesterday to allow the outsourcing of core clerical officer call centre work to the private sector in Revenue,” the CPSU said.
“The ruling means an additional €4.9 million of taxpayers’ money will now be handed over to private sector call centre operators while surplus clerical officers are available in different locations awaiting the assignment of new work.
“The CPSU members continue to be paid but now will fear redeployment up to 90km from their homes or [being] forced to take constructive redundancy under the new redeployment protocol, while new work which has become available in Revenue will be shipped out at extra cost to the taxpayer.”
Separately, the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland said it would be conducting a ballot but held off on issuing a recommendation to members pending “clarifications” on elements of the proposal.
Impact’s eventual stance on the new proposal will be crucial given it represents more than 63,000 workers, a membership which has the capacity to swing the vote.
The union's general secretary, Shay Cody, and other Impact officials acknowledge the new proposal will result in a loss of income for some, but argue that they were successful in the talks in reducing the severity of some of the Government’s main proposals.
The Impact meeting will be followed by a meeting next week of Siptu, the largest union in the State. Although Siptu’s stance will also be critical to the fate of the proposed deal, other meetings today will demonstrate opposition to it among gardaí, nurses and prison officers.
The 24/7 Frontline Services Alliance is meeting today at Croke Park. Roisin Farrelly, spokeswoman for the TUI, said the union’s executive would recommend rejection of the deal in a ballot.