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Proposed public service agreement – the view from the top. March 30, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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This was passed on by a friend of the Lounge…

30th March 2010
To: Branch Secretaries
Cc: CEC, DECs, Staff

Dear Colleague
Proposed public service agreement
Intensive negotiations took place between the public service unions and employers over the weekend, brokered by senior Labour Relations Commission staff. The talks concluded at 3.00am this morning with agreement on a proposed public service agreement. I have called a meeting of the CEC for 8th April to decide whether and how the proposals should be put to ballot of members.
Under the proposals, the Government has given IMPACT and other unions a commitment that there will be no further public service pay cuts if extensive reforms in work practices and conditions of employment are implemented throughout the public service. The proposals also provide a mechanism for the reversal of existing pay cuts over time if reforms deliver verified savings.
The proposals would see a review of the savings that accrue from agreed public service reforms in spring 2011. If sufficient savings have arisen, the restoration of pay cuts will begin. Initial priority will be given to public servants with pay rates of €35,000 or less, according to the proposals.

Further reviews will take place in 2012, 2013, and 2014, with more money becoming available to restore pay rates if verified savings have been achieved. The reviews will be undertaken by a performance verification group with an independent chair and equal numbers of union and employer representatives.
If accepted, the deal would also deliver pension protections and a guarantee of no compulsory public service redundancies. Under the proposed agreement, the period for which 2009 pay rates would be used to calculate pension entitlements would be extended from the end of 2010 to the end of 2011. It was agreed that a review in early 2011 would consider a future extension beyond this date.
The Government’s has confirmed its intention to continue the moratorium on recruitment. But a new agreement on redeployment of staff – within and between public service organisations – would generate savings and help protect services as staff numbers fall. The agreement would see staff redeployment within organisations as the first choice and includes protections for staff, including limits on the distances over which they could be redeployed. Voluntary redundancy schemes could also be used in some circumstances.

Savings would also be generated – and services protected and improved – through detailed work practice reforms in each sector. The pay, pension and job security elements of the deal would be depended on full staff cooperation with these changes, which are set out in separate ‘transformation’ documents for health, local government, education, and the civil service and non-commercial state agencies. These will be published on the IMPACT website as soon as they are available in electronic format.
The proposals restate the Government’s plans to restore the public finances and reduce the deficit to less than 3% of GDP by 2014.
The proposals also include an ‘industrial peace’ clause and an agreed mechanism to quickly resolve disagreements about the agreement.
The overarching agreement is being posted on the website this morning. The detailed proposals for transformation in health, local government, education and the civil service and non-commercial state agencies will be published on the IMPACT website as soon as they are available electronically.
I will contact you again after next week’s CEC meeting.
Yours sincerely,

________________
Peter McLoone
General Secretary

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Comments»

1. ejh - March 30, 2010

Gawd

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WorldbyStorm - March 30, 2010

Yes, a remarkable document.

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2. Nick - March 30, 2010

Sickening.

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3. ejh - March 30, 2010

The thing is, whether or not people agree that some, any or all of this stuff is necessary, if the unions accept it in large part they just shed members because they have no purpose. You can argue whether or not it’s good for unions if they’re militant, but when they’re manifestly compliant – why pay your sub?

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4. Mark P - March 30, 2010

Fucking bureaucrat vermin. I wouldn’t be surprised at this point to learn that they had suggested that the government might like to take the first born child of every public service worker too.

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5. Mark P - March 30, 2010

By the way, is anyone expecting the neo-liberal Labour Party to oppose this? Yet some of you will still think that they are “left wing” in a meaningful sense.

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6. sonofstan - March 30, 2010

Even if Labour did oppose it – and I wish they would, but you’re right, they won’t – union members will still pass it. No one in this country has any nerve anymore: too spooked, too cowed. You can say the union leaders have let down their members, but in truth, they’re doing pretty much what most of their members want: a managed retreat from a position most don’t have the stomach for.

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Mark P - March 30, 2010

“I wish they would” oppose it? Seriously?

And it tells you nothing at all that there is more chance of the Labour Party inventing a perpetual motion machine than there is of it opposing attacks on the working class?

You compared your support of the Labour Party on another thread to support of a football team. That seems to me to more accurate an assessment than you perhaps intended – blind loyalty even as the dodgy owners fleece you.

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sonofstan - March 30, 2010

I support a football team that’s owned by its members, as it happens, so whatever delusion goes on is self-delusion. I’m not going to install the perpetual argument machine here, though…..

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ejh - March 30, 2010

AFC Wimbledon? Osasuna? Bayern Munich?

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Mark P - March 30, 2010

Bohs

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CMK - March 30, 2010

SoS, sadly you’ve identified precisely the dynamic at work. Recent branch meetings have been disspiriting affairs where one is privy to the spectacle of low paid union members parroting the essence of the Sindo position.

From my perspective the only way forward is for a small, militant, section of the unions to really step out from the ‘partnership’ bubble and blaze a trail that hopefully the more timid members will follow. I’m not getting my hopes up….

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WorldbyStorm - March 30, 2010

Yeah, the most dispiriting thing is to hear the ‘there’s no money trope’.

Many people don’t even want to make the effort to see is that phrase a reasonable summation of our situation, and if it isn’t what are the alternatives…

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EWI - March 30, 2010

You can say the union leaders have let down their members, but in truth, they’re doing pretty much what most of their members want: a managed retreat from a position most don’t have the stomach for.

I have to disagree. The maneuverings by the (FFers, the bastards) union leadership in my neck of the woods, simultaneously riding two horses, has been something to behold even for a jaded observer of such things like myself. The membership are much more militant, and there to be led.

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WorldbyStorm - March 30, 2010

It’s a mix, isn’t it? Given a nudge I think there’d be considerably more enthusiasm. But, a deep cynicism, and wariness, and weariness is found in most union members. The attacks haven’t helped either.

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EWI - March 30, 2010

So, I’ve just been watching PrimeTime, and there was some banking f****r coming in live from Paris, trying his best not to grin from ear to ear when the topic of the public sector deal came up (and the most when he spoke about more pay cuts will be coming, regardless of today).

And what of Honohan, claiming that (of course) this banking catastrophe could never, ever happen again, and everyone has learnt their lesson. Obviously.

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Wednesday - March 31, 2010

The membership are much more militant

I’m not sure how true that is. The work-to-rule in those sections of the public service that deal with elected representatives could have been much more effective if it was targetted at government politicians, but that would mean union members providing assistance to Labour and SF while refusing to assist FF and the large FF support in the unions wouldn’t stand for that. The fact that they’re still giving effective support to FF even in the midst of industrial action against FF policies doesn’t say much for the strength of their opposition.

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WorldbyStorm - March 31, 2010

Very very true. And that points to the issue of how institutionally FF – for all the cant – has a remarkably strong presence in unions. Another problem for those of us who want radical action.

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7. DublinDilettante - March 30, 2010

Bohs have had plenty of dodgy “owners” who acted unilaterally (and occasionally illegally) without the support of the membership.

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Mark P - March 30, 2010

You can’t really compare them to Labour though. In the Bohs fan base you have plenty of dissidents. There is absolutely no left in the Labour Party at any level.

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DublinDilettante - March 30, 2010

Not enough dissidents to bother voting out the offending board members, usually! I agree that Labour is an utterly lost cause. They do have the odd left public rep, though, like Cllr. Nulty in Fingal and Cllr. Looney on SDCC. The question of what the fuck they’re doing in the Labour Party is another matter.

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ejh - March 30, 2010

I thought that said Nutty and Looney for a minute. Must clean my screen.

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8. sonofstan - March 30, 2010

The Bohs board has – with one exception – been completely replaced over the past two years: the current lot are spectacularly honest and transparent, so far.

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9. sonofstan - March 30, 2010

The question of what the fuck they’re doing in the Labour Party is another matter.

The same thing as the leader of Mark’s party was trying to do when he was in the LP?

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DublinDilettante - March 30, 2010

…and he got kicked out because he was beginning to succeed. Nulty and Looney will never even get to that stage.

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Mark P - March 30, 2010

Which would make the two of them sort of like those lost Japanese soldiers they used to find in island jungles in the 1960s, still thinking that they are fighting the war in the Pacific.

Back in, say, the 1970s and 1980s the Labour left had a substantial minority opposed to coalition on principle, with TDs, control of many branches, its own publications, activists in the low thousands, its own campaigns, its own organisations, its own policies and alternatives. Now none of that exists. It is all utterly gone. There is no Labour left left.

The last time there was a debate about coalition – the totemic issue in left/right battles in Labour – at Labour Party conference, 80% backed coalition with FG. Almost all of the remnant supported coalition with FF. The last handful supported fighting the election independently and then choosing who to go into coalition with afterwards. Not one single person spoke against propping up an FF or FG government on principle. Not one. Those battles were over two decades ago. The left lost. They were either kicked out (Militant) or made their peace with neo-liberalism (Stagg, Michael D, etc).

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WorldbyStorm - March 30, 2010

Not necessarily with neo-liberalism, but certainly with only a slightly modified status quo. For me the pass was sold when they entered 2007 on a tax cutting manifesto. I have high regard for many many people in the LP, but, even without as going as far as you Mark P I do think that there is a serious issue as to coalition, etc.

In my optimistic moments I hope that the softly softly approach is to build support, get as many votes so it is as powerful as possible post the next election. But then the question kicks in ‘to what purpose?’ Rein in the worst excesses of Vardkar style FG? Just to be there? What?

On the other hand, that 80% voted for it more or less democratically, that’s what they want. Beyond them we see only smaller and smaller formations (some of whom would also deal, some wouldn’t). That’s what is the left in this state.

It enrages me. Seriously.

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10. dmfod - March 30, 2010

that agreement has really shocked me and i didn’t think i could be shocked by the union leadership’s capacity to sell out at this stage. you’d wonder if the government had just written the ‘agreement’ by itself would it be any worse? and on the same day as 22 billion to the banks!

if only this were all part of a Machiavellian scheme by the leaders to take the piss so much that the members revolt thus putting them in a better negotiating position…

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11. dmfod - March 30, 2010

that agreement has really shocked me and i didn’t think i could be shocked by the union leadership’s capacity to sell out at this stage. you’d wonder if the government had just written the ‘agreement’ by itself would it be any worse? and on the same day as 22 billion to the banks!

if only this were all part of a Machiavellian scheme by the leaders to take the piss so much that the members revolt & they can get something off the government…

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12. irishelectionliterature - March 30, 2010

If anyone cares at this stage David Beggs ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ letter from last October….

http://irishelectionliterature.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/get-up-stand-up-ictu-letter-oct-2009/

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WorldbyStorm - March 30, 2010

And reading the list and then the above. Where is the overlap?

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13. Larry - March 31, 2010

I’m absolutely stunned by this deal. Being a cynic I don’t expect much from any union leaders but this agreement must beat all previous sellouts.
Incredibly, if the union leaders hadn’t entered talks and had just accepted the pay cuts their members would have been better off. We now have a 4 year pay freeze, a “transformation agenda” which will seriously erode our terms & conditions on top of the pay cuts and pension levy.
I look forward to our leadership explaining this to us. Unfortunately the union leadership must be confident enough to even bring this deal to the members.

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14. DublinDilettante - March 31, 2010

I’ve been mulling this overnight. The tone of the above (in which McLoone makes zero effort to actually sell the deal) might suggest, to the optimistic mind, that the union leaders have agreed this provisionally in order to show what reasonable chaps they are, but aren’t going to push for acceptance. The idea being to generate a mandate for a better deal. Am I giving them too much credit? (You don’t need to answer that.)

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irishelectionliterature - March 31, 2010

I read this morning that teachers will be expected to work an extra hour a week. So they will be working longer hours teaching larger mores disruptive classes for less pay and no chance of promotion…..
Paddy Healy was on Vincent Browne last night and was outraged by the deal.

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LeftAtTheCross - March 31, 2010

Yes, on first reading it I was wondering where’s the good news in this for the union membership, where’s the sales pitch from the leadership, because there simply isn’t one, not even between the lines.

So either DD is right, it’s a tactical and cynical ploy to have the membership do the dirty work for them in rejecting the agreement, in which case they have failed in their leadership role, or they have been beaten into submission by the government and accept the inevitability of defeat, in which case they have feiled in their leadership role.

Unfortunately I expect that they know that their membership isn’t going to reject the deal when it’s put to them for ballot.

Disappointing. Not a good day in the history of the labour movement in this state.

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15. sonofstan - March 31, 2010

From my perspective the only way forward is for a small, militant, section of the unions to really step out from the ‘partnership’ bubble and blaze a trail that hopefully the more timid members will follow. I’m not getting my hopes up…

I think you’re right: except ‘the more timid’ members will never follow. Still, if a few unions were prepared to leave or ignore congress and fight this deal, at the very least, it would strengthen the hand of the rest.

In my current mood, I reckon it’s time for ‘small militant’ sections of society in general to start causing as much trouble as possible. But where are they?

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CMK - March 31, 2010

Yes, the unions have, literally, nothing to lose. Once they accept several givens: first, forget about media strategy – the media will be against them, period. Rather they should begin developing a nimble communications strategy to members – regular emails, texts, interactive sites. But combine that with aggressive trade unionism. I think, for instance, modern technology will make scabbing very difficult. Picket lines should be monitored by video and anyone caught passing them should be identified and the video/pics posted on a website. It should be made clear to members that anyone scabbing will have that information left on the site forever. Just like all those teenagers posting pics of themselves pissed on Bebo and facebook and not realising that their great grandchildren will be able to see them, potential scabs should realise that they will identified, named and shamed and the stigma will haunt them forever. Not pretty, not liberal, but part of the tactics that got the union movment off the ground and held it together under far worse assaults than at present.

Unfortunately, the more wavering type of union member will need to be dragged into line – forget persuading at this stage, as the time has gone. Added to the above there should be an aggressive recruitment campaign in the private sector. Just a few ideas – incoherent perhaps, but the game has changed; to paraphrase Yeats: things are falling apart, the centre [parthership and TU consensus] cannot hold.

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LeftAtTheCross - March 31, 2010

“Where are they?”

Emigrated. Decommissioned their ideals. Grown old and weary. Depoliticised by material wealth. With O’Leary in the grave even.

Give it time. We’re angry at the moment and find it hard to imagine how much more people will take. But many people are less sensitive, less angry, they’re not at the tipping point yet.

As for causing trouble, I’m not sure how ready the population is for a widespread campaign of civil disobedience for example. We see how vilified the unions are with the PC work to rule, and more importantly how the population buy into the vilification. Individual acts of (I struggle for the right word) “political violence” or “resistance” would be counter productive.

What had you in mind yourself?

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sonofstan - March 31, 2010

Burning banks…..

No, but seriously, one of the things we have to face is that ‘we’ if there is such a thing, represent a perspective (or perspectives) that, for perhaps half the people of working age in this country, and everyone younger, is a historical curiosity. The subtitle of this blog -‘for lefties too stubborn to quit’ – beneath the deprecation, speaks a more depressing truth: the kind of analysis, the kind of thinking that formed us, is dead or simply incomprehensible to perhaps most people now.

That’s why I don’t particularly want to fight it out with Mark P. – I’ve had 35 years of being patronised by the ultra-left and I know all the arguments, and I long ago ceased being offended, but our quarrel, to the great majority – certainly of the young – is about a relevant as some point of medieval theology: it says nothing to them about their lives. We can rail all we want about the media or false consciousness or hegemony, but naming the obstacle doesn’t remove it.

The plain fact is, the right still have control of how the future is imagined, and until we can change that, we can’t change anything. Language doesn’t work unless it latches on to things in the world and thing’s in the minds of people, and our language doesn’t do that – its as dead as Church Latin for the most part.

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LeftAtTheCross - March 31, 2010

The symbolism of burning banks (and churches I must add) would be something to warm the heart for sure, but as you say I don’t think we’re on the cusp of a revolutionary moment where such events would gain the support of “the masses”, this isn’t Spain in 1936, nor Russia in 1905 let alone 1917. Nor is it Italy or Germany in the 1970s. History has moved beyond that, for the monet at least.

I’m not sure I follow where you’re going with your comment about the language of the left being irrelevant. Are you just being despondent with the day that’s in it, or have you something alternative in mind?

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16. ejh - March 31, 2010

Here. On this blog. It’s like the end of Fahrenheit 451.

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17. Dr. X - March 31, 2010

I never saw Fahrenheit 451. Is it a happy ending?

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ejh - March 31, 2010
LeftAtTheCross - April 1, 2010

EJH, I had never seen Fahrenheit 451, and I was intrigued by your comment, so I downloaded it yesterday. Optimistic ending I thought. No?

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18. D_D - March 31, 2010

It is hard to know where to begin a rant on this dreadful deal. I
won’t and instead want to point to four external and macro
consequences. Four consequences of the deal for all workers,
including private sector workers, and for the public at large,
especially the poorest part of it.

(The details of the deal itself can be viewed
at http://www.siptu.ie/campaigns/PUBLICSERVICEAGREEMENT2010-2014/
A critical response from Paddy Healy and the National Public Sector
Allaince is at http://www.indymedia.ie/article/96215&comment_limit=0&condense_comments=false#comment266648 or elswhere on this site.

1. The deal takes no account of the non-pay, non-industrial elements of the budget(s): the cuts in social welfare, community funding, hospital budgets, health services as they affect patients, etc., etc. Where is the union stand on these – without hyperbole, cruel -cuts and why has “trust” and “peace” returned while they remain in place?!

2. The core of the deal is the facilitation, through ‘transformation’
of a reduction in the number of public sector jobs. A reduction of
17,000 has been spoken of. If the the loss is even half that the
question remains: in the midst of mass and growing unemployement, with no prospect of the private sector providing net new jobs in the foreseeable future, should not every single public sector job be precious and defended tooth and nail? Rather than bartered – no, thrown – away?! This deal is going to directly increase unemployment. And besides, less public servants surely must mean further disimproved public services.

3. Following from the last point on job numbers, and also from the
stated tactical aim of the ICTU negotiators to reduce the overall
public service pay bill, the deal is deflationary. That is, it is
against another stated policy of the ICTU, that the response to the crisis should not be deflationary but stimulatory.

4. The cuts sanctified by the deal and the wider budget cuts amount to a transfer from public sector workers and the poor to the banks. The announcement of the deal on Bail Out Tuesday, on the same day as the announcement of the first NAMA figure of €8.5 billion and of the recapitalisation figure of €21.8 billion, was an unfortunate
coincidence for its PR .

Des Derwin

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WorldbyStorm - March 31, 2010

Number 1 is almost the core issue for me. I wrote yesterday that:

“Nor have they [unions] argued for the extension of provision across the society, as they should have, in a range of areas from pensions onwards”.

Without a broader societal approach any deal is pointless. It will simply be seen as sectoral interest writ large. But I think each of your following points are also hugely important.

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EWI - April 1, 2010

Without a broader societal approach any deal is pointless. It will simply be seen as sectoral interest writ large.

And didn’t Sarah Carey have some glee with that in the IT yesterday? Torn between that, and her obvious inclination to cause trouble for FF (as a FG partisan) by trying to egg the unions on into rejecting the deal, of course.

We should’ve been out on strike when NAMA first came into view, never mind anything that came after (I got sick of saying this at the time). This was when we could’ve made a difference.

(For those interested, IMPACT has started putting up the texts of the agreement on their frontpage: http://www.impact.ie/ )

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