CPSU to meet on pay action


THE Civil and Public Service Union (CPSU) is to hold a special delegate conference in Dublin on Saturday to discuss industrial action over a lack of progress in pay talks with the Government.

The large turnout of CPSU members to picket Government offices yesterday protesting at the civil service recruitment embargo suggests the union leadership will have no difficulty a mandate for further strikes over pay. All 10,000 members appear to have obeyed the half day strike call.

The union executive meets tomorrow to decide its attitude towards a public sector pay deal that offers most CPSU members increases of between 7 and 11 per cent, spread over six to 10 years. The mood on the picket lines was one of frustration and danger over the lack of progress two years into the Programme for Competitiveness and Work.

"There has been an overall decline in living standards," said one shop steward. "I appreciate inflation is low but living standards of other people continue to rise".

The CPSU general secretary, Mr John O'Dowd, said the union remained available for negotiations with the Minister for Finance, Mr Quinn, on the embargo issue. "One of the disgraceful aspects of this dispute is that although we served strike action from February 8th, there's been no response whatsoever from Mr Quinn in terms of meetings or negotiations."

He said the union executive would be meeting at the end of the month to plan further action "throughout every department of the civil service".

Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrates both issued statements supporting the Government on curbing public sector recruitment but criticised its, handling of the dispute with the CPSU.

The Fianna Fail spokesman on Labour Affairs, Mr Tom Kitt, said it made no sense for the Department of Finance to refuse to enter into meaningful negotiations with the CPSU. The Progressive Democrats' spokesman on Finance, Mr Michael McDowell, said the issue of low pay should have been addressed in the Budget.

Meanwhile, the Dublin branch of the Irish Nurses' Organisation (INO) has voted by 514 to six to reject an improved Government pay offer. Taken with the massive rejections in Ennis, Cork, Limerick, Wicklow and Dundalk, the result of the national nurses' ballot is now a fore gone conclusions.

Mr Liam Doran, INO deputy general secretary, said the union, was coming under criticism from members for coming back with such a paltry offer and for not conducting a new strike ballot simultaneously with the pay ballot.

CPSU and the nursing unions represent 36,000 public sectors workers. If both vote for industrial action over pay, the Programme for Competitiveness and Work will be in serious jeopardy.