Senior figures in Government and the trade union movement believe the proposed new Croke Park agreement could be carried by as small a margin as 51:49 per cent when the public service committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions meets to consider ratification of the deal tomorrow.
Trade union Impact and the Public Service Executive Union are expected to back the deal comfortably when they announce ballot results today.
Siptu has also recommended acceptance of the agreement, but there have been persistent reports over recent days its vote could be closer than expected.
If Siptu members were to reject the proposed agreement, it would be dead in the water.
Only two unions – representing small numbers of craft workers, mainly in local authorities and the health service – have so far supported the deal.
The Government and senior trade union figures believe the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation could reject the agreement. It is not expected to announce a result until today.
If the INTO rejected the agreement and all other unions opposed delivered a No vote, the fate of the accord would be in the hands of the Prison Officers’ Association. It has 34 votes to cast at the meeting of the public service committee tomorrow and these could be crucial in securing a majority in favour of the agreement being ratified.
Margin of 51:49%
Even in this scenario, Government and union sources believe the likely best case for the Yes side would be a victory margin of about 51:49 per cent.
If the INTO was to accept the deal, the margin would be considerably more comfortable for the Yes side. If the POA and INTO were to reject the deal, and other groups such as Siptu, Impact and the PSEU accepted it, the vote at the public service committee could be tied with the Yes and No sides on 1,446 votes each.
Highly-placed sources last night said the Government’s position remained that if the agreement was ratified by a committee majority, it would consider it binding on all affiliated unions.
Several unions have written to the public service committee to say they will not be bound by any vote to ratify the deal in circumstances where their members have rejected it.
Some unions are also seeking an emergency meeting of the overall executive council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on the deal – a move which could delay ratification.