Major unions to release ballot results on Croke Park

Next day or so crucial for fate of proposed new public sector agreement


The fate of the proposed new Croke Park II agreement is expected to be known within the next day or so with most of the large public service trade unions scheduled to announce the results of ballots of members on Monday and Tuesday.

The overall public service committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will convene on Wednesday to consider ratification of the proposal agreement.

However at this stage the overall vote is expected to be very close with many observers predicting a very narrow majority for the “Yes” side.

Such an outcome could have significant implications for the trade union movement with several unions already publicly announcing they will not necessarily be bound by any decision of the public service committee to ratify the proposed deal if their own members reject the proposals.

Unions opposed to the deal are also seeking an urgent meeting of the overall executive council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to consider the deal -- a development which delay a final decision on ratification.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said that a decision by public service staff to reject the proposed Croke Park agreement would offer them “only uncertainty”.

The Minister has said he will await the outcome of the balloting process but that the Government’s overall plan to secure savings of €300 million on its public service pay and pensions bill this year and €1 billion by 2015 would have to be achieved.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that the Government would introduce legislation to allow for cuts to the pay and pensions bill if staff rejected the new Croke Park proposals.

Mr Howlin has suggested that to generate the €1 billion in savings sought, an average reduction of 7 per cent would be required.

Already members of three unions -the Teachers' Union of Ireland, the Medical Laboratory Scientists' Association and the Technical Electrical and Engineering Union - have rejected the proposed accord in ballots.

Key larger unions such as Siptu, Impact, the union representing national teachers, INTO and others are to announce their ballot results on Monday and Tuesday.

Many industrial relations observers believe that the overall trade union decision on the proposed agreement will be very tight, with possibly a victory for the “Yes” side by a very narrow margin.

Members of the trade union Impact and the Public Service Executive Union, which represents middle grade civil service personnel, are expected to back the deal. Craft workers in a number of small unions may also back the deal.

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and the union representing secondary teachers, ASTI, are expected to reject the agreement as are lower-paid civil servants in the CPSU and higher civil servants in the trade union AHCPS.

Senior Government figures are fearful that the INTO vote will be very close and very possibly could go against the deal.

While any rejection by the INTO of the deal would be very important, a vote by Siptu members against the deal would be absolutely critical.

If Siptu rejects the deal, there will be no possibility of it being ratified by the public service committee of Congress on Wednesday.

If the numbers on the “Yes” and “No” side are very close, the decision of members of the Prison Officers Association could be pivotal.