Doran says demands on pay cuts unreal
The Irish Medical Organisation and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation withdrew from talks on an extension to the Croke Park agreement as the process “is not capable of realising the aspirations we had . . . to maintain our members’ income and not to take further money that they hadn’t got to give,” said Liam Doran of the INMO.
He was speaking in Dublin last night at a hastily arranged press conference. It had been called when it emerged that four unions, the INMO and the IMO, followed by the Civil and Public Services Union and Unite trade union, left the talks last night.
“The demands from the management side continue to be just unreal in terms of the income reductions they are seeking,” Mr Doran said. “Our members’ interests would not be addressed and maintained. Our job as a trade union is to protect and improve where possible the interests and wellbeing of our members and this process is not capable of doing that, based upon the management’s approach.”
He said they would be consulting with the INMO executive and the IMO in coming days to ensure “that our collective members’ interests are protected and maintained despite what the Government seems intent on doing . . .”
Steve Tweed of the IMO said his union’s views had “crystalised yesterday and progressed through today that the ‘give’ our members are being asked to provide to the Government was a step too far on a number of counts.”
He said the first of those counts were “a reduction in pay for a large number of IMO members; the proposed pay cut for what the Government has termed high earners; for a freeze on increments for a period of time”.
Where junior hospital doctors were concerned, he said the proposals the IMO received “actually increases the number of hours” they would be asked to work. This was, he said, “absolutely untenable”.
The press conference was joined by Eoin Ronayne of the CPSU and Tom Fitzgerald of Unite. Mr Ronayne said they had “entered the talks process with a hope that it would be possible to deal with the Government’s agenda, provided it didn’t attack the incomes and take-home pay of lower-paid workers in the public service”.
He continued that “unfortunately over the weeks since June 14th, we have been increasingly worried at the shopping list that has been initially been rolled out. In this process, you would usually expect a negotiating team from the other side to make demands that would change and adjust during the process.”
He said: “We began with the very real hope that there would be some realism on the part of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that the matters which had been raised such as extended hours, five-day weeks over six, banking of overtime hours, flat overtime and a range of changes which affect increments would not in fact be the bottom line.”
Tom Fitzgerald of Unite pointed out their involvement in the talks on behalf of members was “as a watching brief”.
It was “wholly inappropriate for us to remain in those talks at this point in time . . . The position was untenable for ourselves and we’re delighted that other colleagues have taken that view.”