CPSU set to reject Croke Park deal


The general secretary of the Civil Public and Services Unions (CPSU) has forecast that the executive of his union will recommend rejection of the proposed new agreement on public service pay and reform when it meets tomorrow.

Blair Horan said this afternoon that the indications from branch representatives were that members were deeply unhappy that there were no guarantees in the proposed deal reached at Croke Park a fortnight ago on a reversal of controversial pay cuts for public service staff

Mr Horan did not anticipate a decision being taken today by the CPSU executive tomorrow on the re-instatement of industrial action such as bans on answering phones and the closure of public counters in Government offices.

Industrial action by the CPSU, which represents lower-paid civil servants, over the pay cuts caused chaos to services at the Passport Office several weeks ago. However this type of action was suspended after the Croke Park agreement.

Mr Horan said that in the meantime lower level industrial action include a ban on carrying out duties associated with vacant posts would continue.

If the CPSU executive comes out against the deal it will mean that five unions, Impact, TUI, ASTI and Unite have now either recommended rejection of the proposed agreement to members or said that they could not endorse it.

The executives of the PSEU, the INTO and the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants have supported the proposals.

The national executive of Siptu, the country’s largest union, is to consider the deal tomorrow (TUES). Siptu’s health service division backed the proposal agreement at a meeting last week.

On Saturday the Minister of State Peter Power said that if the Government was to row back on the public service pay cuts the country would quickly find itself in a position similar to Greece.

Speaking on RTE’s Saturday View programme, he said that those in the trade unions who were advocating a rejection of the Croke Park or who said that they could not recommend it had a real duty to outline to ordinary members what the alternatives were.

He said that on the one hand if the Government was to do as some had suggested and reverse “the painful decision to reduce public sector pay that was taken as part of the Budgetary process this year, very quickly this country would be in situation similar to Greece”.

“We would show clearly (that) we were unable to organise our own public finances (and) we would find it increasingly difficult to on the international markets to pay public servants we are talking about”.

“On the other hand, the other alternative course would be a very sustained and widespread campaign of industrial action”, he said.

Mr Power described the Croke Park deal was in the middle of these two alternatives and that it was a fair and reasonable offer in the circumstances in which the country currently found itself.

The Minster said that the deal provided the certainty and stability in relation to pay and job security that public sector workers were seeking.

Meanwhile Fine Gael’s deputy finance spokesman Kieran O’Donnell has warned members of public-sector unions are likely to vote against the Croke Park pay deal because of a “breakdown of trust” in Government.

Mr O’Donnell said the public pay talks should have been “put to bed” before the last Budget, adding Fine Gael had argued public servants earning less than €30,000 should not face pay cuts.

“I would hope it wouldn’t come to that situation but I think the Government, by just the way they’ve gone about their business and in terms of the commitments they’ve broken, that the worry is here is that the public sector membership will vote against this deal. We would hope that wouldn’t happen,” he told RTE Radio One's This Week programme.

Mr O’Donnell said everyone agreed there was a need for proper public sector reform but the key issue in the debate was a breakdown of trust. “In a situation where really the public pay talks should have been put to bed before the last Budget, they weren’t, the people have I suppose a severe lack of trust in the way the Government are actually going about their business.”