Ten unions agree 'in principle' to pay deal - LRC

Updated: Tuesday, 14 May 2013 23:11

Labour Relations Commission Chief Executive Kieran Mulvey believes there is agreement in principle with ten unions who previously voted No to Croke Park II.

Mr Mulvey said Friday was the deadline and there would be no deviation from the Government's timetable of implementing the savings in July.

He said some elements involving teachers and other groups could be dealt with on a longer time frame.

The country could not afford industrial strife, which would be like "shooting ourselves in the head", he added.

Meanwhile, the Government is continuing to prepare legislation to impose payroll savings in the public service as a "contingency measure", although it said its preferred option remains an overarching collective agreement.

In a statement, it said it is prepared to enter into agreement with individual trade unions in the absence of a collective agreement.

The Government welcomed the progress made in talks at the LRC.

This afternoon the Garda Representative Association, which had strongly opposed Croke Park II, gave the revised proposals a cautious welcome.

However, a GRA ballot could take six weeks, which raises the question of whether the 1 July deadline for starting to see savings can be met.

Speaking before briefing the Cabinet, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said there is still a way to go before agreement is reached.

He said that from the beginning the Government wanted to try for a negotiated agreement, but said he was under no illusion as to how difficult it would be.

Meanwhile, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said members will look at a number of issues over the next two weeks, following the adjournment of the talks.

The INMO said an examination on the impact of the proposals on its members would be carried out in the field in that time frame.

INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said that once the process is complete, both sides would return to the LRC to see if they could bring the strands of a new collective agreement together.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Doran said the Government needs to choose between cutting nurses' pay and risking a breakdown of major health reforms.

He said the health sector had been disproportionately targeted for a pay reduction of around €150 million, which was half the total amount sought in public sector pay cuts, given that one third of public workers were in the sector.

Nurses and management are to conduct a study at the Mater Hospital in Dublin and Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore to determine if it is practical to reassign to nursing staff some of the work currently being done by non-consultant hospital doctors.

Mr Doran said: "The health sector management want it but they have to acknowledge that if staff co-operate with that kind of thing, well, there will be savings, but if they impose cuts there won't be any cooperation with reform".

Sinn Féin has said a "tweaking" of Croke Park II will not "cut the mustard".

Public Expenditure Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald called on Mr Howlin to look at ways of saving money other than payroll.

Party leader Gerry Adams welcomed the progress that appears to have been made, but said he would wait to hear from the unions, as "Brendan Howlin does not speak for workers".