Cowen warns on industrial unrest


The Taoiseach today warned disgruntled public servants that strike action and industrial unrest would cost jobs and hinder a return to economic growth.

As the fate of the controversial pay and reform deal hangs in the balance Brian Cowen used the annual Fianna Fáil Easter Rising Commemoration at Arbour Hill to persuade workers to back the agreement.

Describing it as a win-win deal, Mr Cowen urged people to ignore the “foghorns of negativity” which he claimed were intent on drowning out the voice of reason.

“There are some who argue that their best interests, and those of other workers — especially public service workers — would be best served through a programme of strikes, of ruptured labour relations and industrial unrest,” Mr Cowen said.

“This would help no-one. It would hinder economic progress and will do absolutely nothing to bring about Ireland’s recovery.

“It would mean lost productivity which can only mean further job losses.” Mr Cowen said the country was at a defining moment and showing the outside world that it was free of industrial unrest would boost international confidence.

He said the Croke Park pay and reform deal would protect jobs.

“Furthermore, the agreement offers public servants the certainty that their pay rates will not fall over the next four years and offers a mechanism for them to improve over time,” he said “This is a win-win agreement for Ireland,” he added.

He said the deal would help underpin stability, help restore prosperity and protect the livelihoods of tens of thousands.

Mr Cowen said the country needed to show a unity of purpose.

“We all need to pull together for Ireland to again succeed. And we need to ignore the foghorns of negativity who want to drown out any and every voice of reason in this country.” Mr Cowen said a return to economic growth would be under way in the second half of the year, adding international commentary had praised Ireland’s efforts to recover prosperity.

On Northern Ireland, the Taoiseach said the devolution of policing and justice powers was hugely significant and welcome.

He said peace on the island was good for trade and investment.

“In planning for economic recovery in past recessions, we never previously had the soothing presence of peace and stability across this island,” Mr Cowen said.

“This peace dividend is a huge advantage today as is the huge success we have had in increasing North-South cooperation.”