TUI votes not to enter any new talks

Union to ballot on leaving Congress if Croke Park measures are imposed

Delegates at the annual conference of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland(TUI) have voted not to go back into any talks with the Government on the proposed new Croke Park agreement.

The conference also voted to direct the union leadership to ballot members on withdrawing from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions if it ratified the proposed new accord and the measures were imposed on affiliated unions.

TUI president Gerry Craughwell had urged delegates not to bind the hands of the union leadership if the Government invited the union to re-enter discussions . However delegates rejected this stance in card vote.

Members of the TUI have already voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposed new Croke Park agreement.

READ MORE

Proposing the emergency motion at the conference in Galway, Michael Carr of the Dublin Colleges branch said the best case scenario would be that following further talks, the scale of the pay cut proposed for some could be reduced but at the expense of others who would face deeper pain.

He said he did not want the proposed Croke Park agreement to go through in any form.

He said if the motion was passed the leadership would have to convene a special conference it wanted to be allowed to accept any further invitation to talks from the Government.

Eileen McGeehan of the Dublin Colleges branch said a big concern of members was if the Irish Congress of Trades Unions voted to ratify the deal what would happen to unions that had rejected it in a ballot.

“Obviously there are positive and negatives associated with being in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. It is there to protect the weak, particularly the weaker unions. If this is imposed on us then that positive is gone.”

Kevin Farrell of the TUI executive committee but speaking in a personal capacity said the Irish Congress of Trade Unions "was supposed to be our fortress, not our prison".

“If they fail to defend us from the imposition of these proposals and if we are to be treated like prisoners and (Congress) officials going to act like prison guards and act like ministers without portfolio, then we will have no option but to ballot members to leave the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.”

He said electoral support fot the Labour Party had collapsed and it was desperate to get the Croke Park cuts through without having to legislate. He said "we must call their bluff".

Mr Craughwell said it was very hard to disagree with almost everything that had been said in the debate. However he said members had elected an executive committee to act on their behalf. He said the motion would bind the executive not to re-enter any further talks.

Mr Craughwell said there probably would be a further invitation to talks becuase he did not believe the Government had the neck to impose the cuts through legislation.

Martin Majoram of Tallaght IT said TUI members did not vote 6:1 against the Croke Park proposals to go back in and have them slightly tweaked.

“If we go back in there we are becoming collaborators in a punishment beating of hard-working public servants. We will be given the opportunity to drive a few of the nails into the baseball bat before it is used on publlic servants. we don’t want that.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent