Rabbitte insists Croke Park deals fair

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has insisted the Government has been ?even-handed? in its approach to public sector workers and denied ?sweeteners? had been offered to unions that stayed in the talks.

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has insisted the Government has been ?even-handed? in its approach to public sector workers and denied ?sweeteners? had been offered to unions that stayed in the talks.

Mon, Mar 4, 2013, 00:00

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has insisted the Government has been “even-handed” in its approach to public sector workers and denied “sweeteners” had been offered to unions that stayed in the talks.

Mr Rabbitte said the unions who had left the process had done so because they felt it was in the best interests of their members. He was speaking in Donegal after addressing the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly.

“The Government has been even-handed in dealing with the unions in the public service and has accepted that each union does its business according to its own lights and we haven’t intruded into that,” he said. “I wouldn’t be party to one union being treated differently from another so I’m quite happy to see that they continue to be treated even-handedly.”

Mr Rabbitte said he did not think it would be “conscionable for any question to arise about punishing a particular union because of the stance they take”.

He said all those involved were public servants but they worked in very different sectors of employment. The stresses and strains on different kinds of workers are different.

“You have to accept that they have to do their business according to their lights and make judgements in terms of what they see as the best interests of their members. Their job after all, it’s important to remember, is to represent their members. And I think it is just [as] important that the Government maintains an even handed disposition.”

Mr Rabbitte disputed that so-called “sweeteners” were being used to sway the votes of members of unions that stayed in the talks process.

“Is that the case of sweeteners for people who stay in? I don’t think that’s the case. Inevitably if you’re at negotiations you’re at negotiations to make gains for the people that you represent.

“There are always category-specific, more minor but important issues that need to be resolved on behalf of any particular segment of the workforce. Presumably the people who stayed in continued to negotiate as best they could but I wouldn’t characterise it as sweeteners for people to stay in.”

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