State's second largest union recommends rejection of pay deal


THE COUNTRY'S second largest union Unite is to recommend to its 60,000 members that they should reject the terms of the new draft national pay deal in a forthcoming ballot.

At a meeting yesterday, the executive committee of Unite in the Republic of Ireland decided that the deal effectively represented a pay cut for members.

It decided, therefore, that it was not appropriate in the circumstances to urge members to accept it.

The union executive is also concerned at the three-month pay pause for private sector workers which is contained in the agreement.

It is also understood the Unite executive believes the deal, negotiated between the social partners this month, does not meet demands it had set out in advance of the talks in areas such as mandatory union recognition and improved pension arrangements.

Unite is to hold a consultative conference on October 10th, and will later carry out a ballot of members on the deal.

Separately yesterday, the executive of Impact, the largest public service union, voted to recommend acceptance of the deal in a national ballot.

Speaking after an executive meeting in Naas, Co Kildare,Impact general secretary Peter McLoone said the proposed deal would help stabilise the economy and protect incomes in a difficult economic period.

He said the deal, worth 6 per cent over 21 months with an extra 0.5 per cent for low-paid workers, was the best available in the current economic and financial climate even though it entailed a "special sacrifice" from public servants in the form of an 11-month pay freeze.

Mr McLoone said most public servants understood the prevailing economic realities and wanted to protect services in a time of tight public finances.

"Our executive has also taken this decision because it's the best available means of protecting jobs and incomes right now.

"Most public servants value the services they provide to the public, and understand the implications of rising unemployment and falling Government revenues.

"This is the best deal available in the current economic climate, and it represents a tangible and responsible contribution to dealing with the challenges we face as workers, as public servants and as a nation - including protecting employment and living standards."

Mr McLoone said the draft deal also contained a Government commitment to early legislation to tackle victimisation of union members in non-union companies.

He said this new legislation would also stop anti-union employers offering "inducements" aimed at forcing people to give up their union membership.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions is to meet today to consider the new pay deal.

It is expected to arrange a special conference for union delegates to vote on the draft agreement.

Earlier this week the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) indicated that its members had concerns about aspects of the deal.

It signalled that its members were unhappy that the pay pause did not go far enough.

It had sought pay increases to be delayed for a 12-month period.

The CIF is to make a final decision on the new pay deal on October 21st.

The country's largest union Siptu has demanded that the Government withhold State contracts from employers who do not sign up to the deal.

Siptu president Jack O'Connor said: "If the agreement is not ratified by all the constituents, there is no agreement.

"We are not going to operate on the basis that workers receive entitlements on one side of the economy but not on another."

Siptu is to hold a special delegate conference to consider its position on the draft deal in mid-October.