Ictu ratifies agreement on public service and pay

 

THE PUBLIC Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) has formally ratified the Croke Park agreement on public service pay and reform.

The agreement was carried by a margin of almost two to one when the committee met to consider the deal yesterday afternoon. In a card vote, the deal was backed by 1,899 votes to 986.

Overall the members of nine unions rejected the agreement in ballots but they were outvoted on the committee by the 10 unions – including the largest public service unions, Impact and Siptu – which had accepted the deal.

Some unions such as the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) and the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) have indicated they would not accept the outcome of a majority vote on the Croke Park deal.

However, it will be up to the executives of individual unions which voted against the deal to decide when they meet over the coming week on what action to take if they do not wish to go along with the position of the Public Services Committee (PSC). Trade union Unite, which voted against the deal, said yesterday that it would convene a meeting of its public service representatives to discuss the implications of the decision of the Public Services Committee.

Yesterday, the Prison Officers Association (POA) and the plasterers’ union OPATSI became the latest to vote against the agreement. The POA said its members had rejected the deal by a margin of more than three to one in a ballot. Some 1,634 POA members voted to reject the deal with just 483 voting to accept it. The POA has about 3,500 members.

The POA result was expected. Delegates at the association’s annual conference in April voted overwhelmingly in favour of recommending to prison officers that they reject the proposals.

Sources within the POA said the association had no mandate from its members to withdraw from Ictu or engage in any form of industrial action in light of the public sector unions’ acceptance of the deal.

The chairman of the PSC Peter McLoone said that it would be seeking an immediate meeting with senior management in the Department of An Taoiseach, the Department of Finance and other bodies and agencies in the public service with a view to agreeing the next steps towards the implementation of the deal. He said the PSC would also be seeking an early agreement on the composition of the new implementation body which will drive the modernisation process, deal with issues over how the deal is put in place as well as verify outcomes.

Mr McLoone said the unions also wanted an early agreement on the appointment of the independent chairman of the new implementation body.

“There has been a lot of talk on all sides about transformation. It’s now time to start quickly delivering that transformation for each of the three key stakeholders: public service users, taxpayers, and the people who work to deliver public services.

“This is the beginning of a process that will be closely watched by members of those constituencies, many of whom have yet to be convinced of our capacity to deliver transformation that allays their fears and meets their needs,” he said.

Mr McLoone said that, even among workers who voted to accept the deal, many remained sceptical about management’s ability to deliver better public services and abide by the staff protections stitched into the deal.

“We need an indication from the Taoiseach that his Government will challenge senior public service managers and require them to start acting now to deliver real reform and involve staff in the process, as they are required to do under this deal ,” he said.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore last night welcomed the ratification of the deal and said that his party in government would honour the terms of the agreement.