SIPTU survey says pay not top issue


SIPTU members seek a wider agenda than pay, according to the response to a confidential questionnaire.

The survey in the country's largest union showed that members ranked pay down the list of negotiating priorities, putting health and safety, equality, job security and tax higher up.

While one in five members considered they played an active role, many felt remote from the union.

A number expressed dissatisfaction with the services offered ranging from how telephone queries are handled to individual industrial relations problems.

According to one union source SIPTU, which has over 200 000 members, needs to increase its satisfaction levels by 25 per cent to reach "acceptable levels".

SIPTU management said the survey, conducted on behalf of the executive, showed a "sophisticated" level of understanding of industrial relations, and members recognised the importance of negotiating at both national and local level.

"The survey reflects what we already know but in more detail," said a union source. "We were certainly aware there were shortcomings, but with the help of outside consultants and the initiatives already taken in the SIPTU 2000 plan, we have identified these things and are working on them. We are not afraid of criticism. This survey will strengthen the position of those pushing for change."

More than 1,000 people were surveyed as the union faces into new pay talks, which will be discussed at a special ICTU conference this month.

But yesterday Mr Jim Larragy, chairman of the SIPTU branch in Trinity College Dublin, which has 550 members, was dismissive of the survey. He said the union management was simply trying to "justify" itself to members.

"To say that national wage agreements should not be about pay is the talk of union leaders. The real issue for members is pay. Management want to avoid pressure on pay so they steer things around to social issues and dress it up as a broad package which you frequently find is not delivered on," said Mr Larragy.

In Trinity they had attempted to assist cleaning staff and arrange pensions for part time workers through SIPTU, but the union had "simply laughed at us

He said the views expressed in the survey results would suit union management. "I haven't seen this survey. But really if you want to get a measure of where things are at within the union movement you have got to get the views of people about the union when they are facing problems such as a strike."