Unions came close to split over Croke Park

Congress structures need to be re-examined, says CPSU general secretary

Speaking in advance of the annual conference of the Civil Public and Services Union,  Eoin Ronayne said if there had been a small majority on the public service committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in favour of the deal, there would have been real pressure on the No unions to walk away from Congress.  Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Speaking in advance of the annual conference of the Civil Public and Services Union, Eoin Ronayne said if there had been a small majority on the public service committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in favour of the deal, there would have been real pressure on the No unions to walk away from Congress. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Thu, Apr 25, 2013, 09:40

The trade union movement came very close to a split over the Croke Park II, the general secretary of the union representing lower-paid civil servants has said.

Speaking in advance of the annual conference of the Civil Public and Services Union, which commences today, Eoin Ronayne said if there had been a small majority on the public service committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in favour of the deal, there would have been real pressure on the No unions to walk away from Congress.

“The Siptu vote (to reject the agreement) saved the day as there was a real risk of a schism and that is not in anybody’s interest.”

Mr Ronayne said the structures within the trade union movement for dealing with such issues needed to be re-examined, particularly there could be further divisions in the weeks ahead on foot of the intervention of the Labour Relations Commission to determine if an agreement c a n be reached on reducing the public service pay bill.

Mr Ronayne said the system employed in the recent Croke Park talks with the Government were broadly the same as those used in previous negotiations in which the officers of the public service committee of Congress were the lead negotiators on the staff side.

He said that when the “range of dissent” to the Croke Park II proposals became evident the union negotiating team needed to be augmented.

“There was a need to bring more people into the loop.”

Mr Ronayne said the potential for fragmentation remained, particularly if the Government, on foot of Mr Mulvey’s report, sought to press ahead and try reach a deal with some public service unions.

He said the Government would be very foolish to think it would be in anyone’s interest to see a break-up of Congress.