INMO will not accept cuts to pay
Seamus Murphy of the Psychiatric Nurses Association. He said their members could not take another pay cut. Photograph: The Irish Times
The main union representing nurses has said it will withdraw from talks on an extension to the Croke Park agreement unless the Government moves away from its current "high-handed, dictatorial approach " aimed at cutting staff income.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is to remain in the process for the time being.
However the union said if management did not become more real and realistic at their next meeting, its executive would meet again to decide on its continued participation.
Union general secretary Liam Doran said in such an event the decision would be self evident.
The INMO said any Government initiative under an extended Croke Park agreement that resulted in a cut in monthly take-home income will be unacceptable.
It said the current approach being adopted by management in the current process was provocative and unrealistic.
It said it was primarily targeted at the income of frontline public servants who provide services on a round-the-clock basis.
The Psychiatric Nurses Association has also said it could not accept cuts to allowances or premium payments as part of the Government’s move to save €1 billion on the public service pay and pensions bill.
The association’s deputy general secretary Seamus Murphy said many of the allowances and premium payments were awarded several years ago in lieu of pay increases for staff.
The association is not affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and is not involved in the current talks on the proposed extension of the Croke Park agreement.
Mr Murphy said he understood no specific proposals had yet been put forward in the health sector where management is seeking to generate savings of more than €400 million.
However, in broad terms management has signalled that it wants to put in place pay cuts for higher public service earners, cuts to allowances and premium payments and the introduction of a longer working week.
The country’s largest trade union, Siptu, told members today it was “by no means clear” that any agreement could be reached in the current talks with the Government on an extension to the Croke Park agreement.
It said the current negotiations “will be very challenging and we would stress that no agreement has been reached on any matter tabled by management”.
“At this early and exploratory stage of the discussions, management has indicated a number of areas where it believes savings can be extracted including through increased working hours, downward adjustments to overtime and premium payments, outsourcing of work and revised re-deployment and exit arrangements.”
“On foot of the national executive council's decision for the union to participate in the talks process the Siptu position has been made clear to the employer side."
1 We want to influence the outcome in the best interests of our members.
2 The burden should not fall disproportionately on any one grade or group, particularly those on low and middle incomes.
3 Those at the higher end of the salary structure should contribute most.
4 Our position on any proposal that may emerge will be informed by fairness and equity.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has described the decision of Garda representative bodies to withdraw from talks on a proposed extension to the Croke Park agreement as “disappointing” but said the current process would continue.
In a statement it said: “All sides understood when the invitation to discussions was issued and accepted by the parties concerned, that a major challenge faces both sides to shape an acceptable outcome for public servants across the broad range of employments in each sector. The talks process will continue to see if that can be achieved.”
The department said the departure of any union was disappointing, “in particular since any group that chooses to leave the negotiations gives up the opportunity to shape the outcome on behalf of the people they represent”