Government waits for union response to overtures

The Government expects a response in two weeks’ time from trade unions as to whether there is “room for negotiation” on the outcome of the renegotiated Croke Park deal.

Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald:  The Taoiseach was “making it clear” that Croke Park II was still on the table.

Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald: The Taoiseach was “making it clear” that Croke Park II was still on the table.

Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 09:53


The Government expects a response in two weeks’ time from trade unions as to whether there is “room for negotiation” on the outcome of the renegotiated Croke Park deal.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed Cabinet approval to ask the Labour Relations Commission to “engage with the 21 unions involved” to see what prospect there was for negotiation.

“The Government expects to get a response to that engagement inside two weeks,” Mr Kenny told Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald. He added that the outcome of the vote on the deal did not “alter the fact that the figures and the arithmetic remain the same”.

There was a requirement to achieve a saving of €300 million this year from within the public payroll bill, and a total of €1 billion by 2015.

Later in a Fianna Fáil private member’s debate Minister for Public Expenditure and ReformBrendan Howlin said he accepted the unions’ decision in the vote but did not believed it to be a rejection of collective bargaining.

Mr Howlin said he was prepared to engage with unions who wanted to work with him to see if there was “any possibility of a negotiated outcome that meets the Government’s and the country’s spending targets”.

He would much prefer to get the savings “through agreement rather than expropriation”.

Introducing the motion, Fianna Fáil public expenditure and reform spokesman Seán Fleming called on the Minister to give a guarantee there would be no legislation introduced to cut pay.

Earlier, Ms McDonald had asked if the Taoiseach accepted that Croke Park II was off the table and that the “big stick approach of issuing threats and diktats to public sector workers has failed”. She said the new process the Government was embarking on “must be a real renegotiation rather than a face-saving exercise or a tweaking. It cannot be like Lisbon II or Nice II”.

She added that the Taoiseach “cannot continue to ask workers to vote again until they give you the answer you want”.

When Mr Kenny said the “figures and arithmetic remain the same”, Ms McDonald said, the Taoiseach was “making it clear” that Croke Park II was still on the table.

She asked: “When does No mean No? Why can’t you accept that democratic verdict?”