Enda Kenny to use ‘strategy’ to manage industrial relations

Taoiseach rules out access to industrial relations machinery for Defence Forces

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: “The Government will not sacrifice the hard-won gains that have been achieved by the Irish people over the last number of years.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: “The Government will not sacrifice the hard-won gains that have been achieved by the Irish people over the last number of years.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/INPHO

 

The Government will put its own “strategy” in place to best manage the industrial relations process, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

He told Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams “we have to have fairness across the board for every worker in the country.

“The Government will not sacrifice the hard-won gains that have been achieved by the Irish people over the last number of years.”

The Taoiseach stressed “the Government will respond collectively in setting out an agenda, structure and strategy which we can best manage the circumstances we now find ourselves in as a country and not a situation where it becomes sector versus sector versus sector”.

But he rejected calls for the Defence Forces to have access, like An Garda Síochána, to the State’s industrial relations machinery

As pressure grows from public sector unions on pay restoration and equal pay for new entrants to various sectors, Mr Adams asked the Taoiseach about starting talks to find a new agreement.

Mr Adams said “the mantra that the Lansdowne Agreement is the only game in town just doesn’t hold. There is now a need for a new pay deal that is built upon fairness and equality for workers.”

Pay restoration

The Louth TD said a fair and untimely unwinding of paycuts was required and, while it could not be achieved overnight, “it can be time-lined”, through effective dialogue and a sensible path of pay restoration. The Taoiseach said “what is required is a well-managed process that will look at where the country now is and where we think it can be in five, 10 years time”.

Insisting “we stand by Lansdowne Road”, Mr Kenny added the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform “has acknowledged that arising from the Labour Court recommendation this brings added pressures to responsibilities that he must discharge”.

He said public service pay demands had to be balanced against constraints on the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and on the Government.

Mr Adams said the Lansdowne Road pay deal “has run out of road” and a new process had to start. He warned that “facing down workers and their unions will not work”.

Macho posturing

He called on the Taoiseach to “leave the macho posturing to the Fianna Fáil leader”. Mr Kenny was head of Government and “should start talking now and set the example”.

AAA-PBP TD Mick Barry highlighted the case for the Defence Forces to also have access to the State’s industrial relations agencies, in light of a case being taken by Defence Forces representative agencies Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDForra) and Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO) to the European Committee of Social Rights for access.

But Mr Kenny said the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court were made available to An Garda Síochána on an ad hoc basis and would continue until legislation was introduced to make access permanent. However, he said, “I have no intention of presenting a similar case for the Defence Forces who are an aid to the civil power.”