Howlin warns no further talks on Croke Park

TEEU is third union to reject deal

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has ruled out further negotiations on the proposed new Croke Park agreement to cut the public service pay bill.

The Minister’s comments came as members of a third union in the public service voted to reject the proposed Croke Park II deal.

Members of the Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) voted today by a two-to-one margin against the new Croke Park proposals.

The union, which represents about 1,500 craft workers, had initially recommended to members that they accept the deal but later changed its mind and opted for a neutral stance.


The Irish Times reported last month that in a side deal to the main new Croke Park proposals reached with the Government, the TEEU secured an increase in leave for some craft workers outside of Dublin who currently have 23 days of holiday per year.

Under the side deal, if the proposed new Croke Park agreement was passed, leave for all craft workers would be standardised at 25 days per year.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has refused to publish any of the side letters or "clarifcations" agreed with unions on foot of the recent Croke Park talks.

Mr Howlin said today he did not want to give any false indication that there was time to have another round of negotiations. He said the negotiations had been conducted and those who had involved themselves in the recent process had done a good deal for their members.

However, Mr Howlin stated that those who had absented themselves would have to reflect upon their involvement to date.

Speaking on the Today with Pat Kenny show on RTÉ Radio, Mr Howlin said it was an inescapable truth that the Government's budgetary arithmetic was based on €300 million being saved on the public service pay and pensions bill this year and €1 billion over three years. He said these savings had to be delivered.

Unions opposing the new Croke Park II proposals have argued that Labour Party backbenchers would have difficulties in voting to legislate for a pay cut for public service staff, as the Government has signalled it would do, in the event of the Croke Park II deal being rejected.

However, Mr Howlin indicated that Labour Party TDs would be prepared to vote in favour of such measures if necessary.

“I think people would underestimate the steel, the determination and the patriotism of Labour parliamentary party members .”

Already three public service trade unions – the Teachers’ Union of Ireland, the Medical Laboratory Scientist’s Association and the TEEU – have rejected the Croke Park proposals in ballots of members.

However, the results ofthe ballots carried out by the large public service unions such as Siptu and Impact, which have both recommended acceptance of the deal, will not be known until Tuesday.

If Siptu was to reject the proposed agreement, it would in effect be dead in the water.

The Government is also fearful that the union representing national teachers, the INTO, could reject the proposed agreement.

But if Impact, Siptu and the Public Service Executive Union which represents middle-grade civil service staff, back the deal, they would virtually have sufficient votes, possibly with the support of the Prison Officers' Association, to win a majority on the public service committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. It meets on Wednesday to consider ratification of the proposals.

However, a number of unions such as the Teachers’s Union of Ireland, the Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation and Unite have said they will not necessarily be bound by any decision of the public service committee on the proposed deal.

Several trade unions have also called for the issue of the new Croke Park deal to be considered by the full executive council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent