Unions await Government reaction to deal collapse

Thursday 18 April 2013 22.18
Public service workers are awaiting the Government's response to their rejection of the Croke Park II proposals
Public service workers are awaiting the Government's response to their rejection of the Croke Park II proposals

Public service workers are awaiting the Government's response to their rejection of the Croke Park II proposals.

A number of unions have hardened their resistance to the deal.

The CPSU has said it will not engage in renewed talks on the Croke Park II proposals which have been rejected by a majority of public service unions.

The CPSU was one of 14 unions to reject the proposals, which involved pay cuts for higher paid employees, longer working hours, and a freeze on increments.

The union executive formulated a motion to put to delegates at its annual conference next week.

If passed at the conference, the CPSU has said it would refuse to engage in further negotiations on the existing Croke Park II proposals.

A source has described the deal as "dead in the water".

The motion also calls for the union to ballot for industrial action if the government legislates for pay cuts.

At the Psychatric Nurses Association conference in Galway, General Secretary Des Kavanagh issued a similar warning.

He said his members had reached a point where they could not afford not to strike if threatened with legislation for paycuts.

The PNA opposed the Croke Park II proposals.

The Public Service Executive Union, which represents mid-ranking civil servants and voted in favour of the Croke Park II proposals, also warned of industrial action.

Speaking at his union's annual conference in Wexford, General Secretary Tom Geraghty said it would be dangerous to assume that a deal can be reassembled in some way.

He warned that the union would not accept any deal that offered terms any worse than Croke Park II.

Mr Geraghty said his members should not be disadvantaged after voting to accept the deal.

Meanwhile in a bulletin to members, IMPACT, which also voted to accept Croke Park II, outlined three possible options for the Government .

One option is that the Government would give up on seeking pay cuts.

IMPACT says that while this would give temporary relief to public sector workers, the economic fall out would include extra taxes or cuts in services to make the budgetary arithmetic work in 2013 and 2014.

It could also trigger what it called a "damaging dust-up" with the troika, put Ireland's reputation at risk, reduce the prospect of a successful exit from the bailout and result in an even worse deal next year.

The second option proposed would be to attempt to "clarify" or "finesse" the existing package seems the most likely Government move, though it acknowledges the scope for this is extremely limited.

It notes that the Croke Park II proposals are a delicately constructed package, where you can only improve the deal for one group by worsening it for another.

IMPACT warned that it would be unacceptable for IMPACT to end up with a worse package in order to appease members who had voted to reject the proposals.

The third scenario would see the Government imposing similar or worse cuts to pay and conditions without agreement.

This would see the collapse of Croke Park II, leaving the path clear for management to seek compulsory redundancies and other reductions in terms and conditions.

As with the PSEU and the CPSU, IMPACT says sustained industrial action would be the only way to proect staff in those circumstances.

The union anticipates that the cabinet will discuss the issue this week, but it could take another week for a clear Government response to be articulated.