Civil servants warn of industrial action if Government implements Croke Park cuts
CPSU says members won’t lie down quietly in face of pay cuts
Eoin Ronayne, General Seceretary of the CPSU arriving for talks with other public sector unions this month. Photograp: Dara Mac Donaill / THE IRISH TIMES
The union representing lower-paid civil servants is to ballot for industrial action up to and including strikes if the Government unilaterally introduces pay cuts or changes to terms of employment.
The annual conference ofthe Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU) unanimously backed an emergency motion proposed by its executive which also stated it would not accept any “tweaking” of the Croke Park II agreement which was rejected by its members.
In her address to the conference, union president Joan Byrne said she wanted to send a clear message to the Government that members had had enough and were prepared to fight. “We have shown before that we can and will take action. We won’t lie down quietly while they walk all over us. We have the strength, the mettle and the means to fight,” she said. “We do not want to have to take industrial action, but be under no illusion, Minister (Brendan) Howlin, we will fight if you do not bin these unfair charges.”
Ms Byrne said the huge response in the CPSU’s ballot on the Croke Park II deal - which overwhelmingly rejected the proposal - fully showed members backed the decision of the union to walk out of the talks with the Government which led to the proposed agreement.
“By our actions we have set down our marker, we have endured enough, we are strong and we are united along with other unions who have the same message for the Government.”
The union’s general secretary Eoin Ronayne told the conference he would meet the chief executive of the Labour Relations Comission Kieran Mulvey to spell out the union’s problem with the Croke Park II proposals. He said the union would engage in further talks with the Government if invited as to do otherwise “would be deny our members the right to representation with their employer and to hand the initiative over to others in the public service committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to negotiate our terms and conditions”.
However, Mr Ronayne warned the CPSU had walked out of the original Croke Park II talks with the Government “and if needs be we will do so again”.
He said the position to the CPSU was that radical changes to re-deployment were out, changes to flexitime working were out, changes to hours of attenddance at work were out and changes to pay and increments were out. “In fact, Croke Park II is out”.
Mr Ronayne said the CPSU would meet with other unions to ensure they were not wrongsided “by others who would seek to get a couple of thousand people to change their vote to cobble a deal together”.
He added: “Buying off interest groups is no way to solve problems.”
Ms Byrne said changes to flexible working arrangements proposed under the new Croke Park deal would have made it more difficult for staff to combine work and family life. “The truth is this puts carers who are predominantly female at a disadvantage.”
She said there would also be longer working hours that reduced the hourly rate of pay.
She said there were also proposed changes to redeployment arrangements that could force staff out of the workforce and changes to increments that would take more money out of members’ pockets.
“Enough is enough. So I say to (Taoiseach ) Enda Kenny, its time for you to get real , stop trying to kid us, go take the money from those who can afford it such as the top earners, the bankers who bust the economy and the wealthy elite who are still sitting pretty.”
“We have played out part. We have worked harder and smarter with less resources to serve the public. We have taken the cuts, made the changes, met the targets and helped this country to recover but be warned Enda there is only so much we can do or be expected to do.”