Ictu to stage day of protest


The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) is to stage a national day of demonstration in November in a bid to try to influence Government’s decisions on the forthcoming Budget.

Speaking after a meeting of the Ictu executive council today, Congress president Jack O’Connor said this would involve marches in about six locations on the afternoon of Friday, November 6th.

Ictu will also reactivate its campaign for the implementation of a 10-point plan for dealing with the economic crisis in “a fairer way”.

Mr O’Connor said unions affiliated to Ictu will be inviting all their members working in both the public and private sectors to take part in the day of demonstration.

Mr O’Connor said while Congress would engage with the Government if it was invited to fresh talks, its new campaign would not end until it had a proposition that was “worthy of consideration” by affiliate unions.

Ictu general secretary David Begg said the consensus view at today’s meeting was that the Government had decided on its budgetary strategy and this meant people on social welfare or lower- to middle-incomes were going to have to carry the burden of the economic adjustments.

Congress is concerned at the Governemnt strategy to cut spending by some €4 billion next year. “What they are trying to do is too brutal, too soon and will militate against the possibility of any short-term transition to a new environment,” Mr Begg said.

Asked how the Ictu campaign related to plans for industrial action by some unions, Mr O’Connor said a number of these were seeking a mandate or were already equipped with mandates to conduct industrial or strike action. He said Congress would not be directly involved in such action but would be seeking to achieve maximum coordination to obtain maximum leverage with the Government.

Asked about the lodging of a pay claim with the HSE yesterday by Sitpu, Mr O’Connor said that he would not stop members taking industrial action in pursuit of such claims. He said there had been no new national agreement put in place and Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan had indicated that the burden of adjustment would be borne by working people and the less well-off. “The gloves are off,” he said.

Siptu lodged a claim yesterday for a 3.5 per cent pay increase for about 34,000 staff in the health service, arguing that it represented the first phase of the rise due under the national pay deal negotiated last autumn. The Government subsequently froze these increases for staff in the public sector.

Siptu has warned of industrial action if the Health Service Executive (HSE) refuses to engage on the implementation of the rise.

Members of the Ictu executive were among the estimated 15,000 people who took part in a march of community workers, employers and activists in Dublin this afternoon.