Labour Relations Commission may seek more time to resolve Croke Park row

Begg warns of potential disastrous drift to conflict between Government and unions

General secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg:  congress could not maintain its distance if the LRC’s attempt to find an agreed settlement failed

General secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg: congress could not maintain its distance if the LRC’s attempt to find an agreed settlement failed

 


The Labour Relations Commission (LRC) is expected to seek more time from the Government in its attempt to determine whether an agreed resolution can be found to proposals to reduce the public service pay and pensions bill by €1 billion.

The Government had asked commission chief executive Kieran Mulvey to report by next Tuesday on contacts with all parties following the rejection of Croke Park II.

It is understood Mr Mulvey will make an interim report to the Cabinet next week but may look for latitude to continue talks with some unions.

This is expected to involve further exploration of joint proposals advanced by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and the Irish Medical Organisation for cutting costs by transferring some work carried out by non-consultant doctors such as phlebotomy services to nurses.

It is understood unions maintain this would allow for the achievement of compliance with the European working time directive for doctors while not affecting existing rates of pay or premium rates.


Direct pay cut
It is unclear whether this proposal will be supported by the Government.

Sources said there could be further exploration with unions representing staff who did not face a direct pay cut but who were unhappy with other aspects of the Croke Park II proposals.

Mr Mulvey is also expected to hold further talks with Garda representatives early next week.

Meanwhile, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg warned of a potentially disastrous drift to conflict between the Government and public service unions if no resolution to the stand-off is reached.

Mr Begg said congress had not been involved in the talks that led up to the Croke Park II proposals but could not maintain its distance if the LRC’s attempt to find an agreed settlement failed.

He said if the situation in the public service went seriously wrong it could have implications across public and private sectors.

On Thursday Mr Begg will address senior figures in the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants which is to consider several motions at its conference next week moving to disaffiliate from congress in the wake of the Croke Park II rift. Talks on those proposals were conducted by the public services committee of congress.

Separately yesterday, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform appeared to rule out, for the present, proposals for a commission to examine Garda pay.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan earlier this week backed a call by rank-and-file gardaí for the establishment of a commission to make recommendations on pay.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Garda Representative Association he said the current climate represented a good opportunity for Garda remuneration to be examined. Such a process had worked in the 1970s, he said, with the Conroy and Ryan commissions.

However, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said the Government’s immediate focus was on achieving further savings of €1 billion in the pay and pensions bill by 2015, with proportionate savings coming from the pay bill in each sector, including An Garda Síochána.