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Public Service Unions Must Withdraw from Talks January 26, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.

From Paddy Healy , Convener National Public Service Alliance

Pay cut for All through increased Pension Contributions Demanded by Government as AGSI withdraws from talks

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Superintendents(AGSI) have withdrawn from the Pay Talks (Croke Park Extension)

GS John Redmond said the talks were only to decide what form the pay reduction would take and they would not be returning. He also said that “an increase in pension contributions was demanded by government” It is being speculated that the Garda Representative Association (GRA) may withdraw from the talks at its executive meeting next Wednesday. AGSI and GRA are precluded by law from affiliating to ICTU.
Meanwhile the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation(INMO) is conducting a vigorous campaign to prevent pay cuts for new entrants. They are conducting a very successful campaign asking graduate nurses to boycott the jobs. This campaign should be supported in other unions and trades councils and by lobbying Labour TDs. The teaching unions, on the other hand have allowed disgraceful reductions in the pay of new entrants to the profession.

Rank and file members of trade unions and trade union activists must act now to prevent a new surrender by union leaders. Special meetings of union branches must be called and motions calling on the union leaderships to leave the talks should be tabled. Similar motions should be tabled at national executive meetings. The motion should also direct union leaders to propose and vote to leave the talks at the next meeting of the meeting of the Public Services Committee of ICTU. This is necessary because a few union leaderships are afraid to leave the talks because they fear that if they do so that the brunt of the cuts will be dumped disproportionately on their union members by other unions. This is an indication the level to which some leaderships have sunk in the centenary year of the 1913 lock-out. “An injury to one is the concern of all” has been long forgotten at the summit of Irish trade unions!

All the demands being made by government are very serious. I want to comment on one of them here because it would, in effect, reduce the pay of all public servants if conceded. That is the demand for an increase in pension contributions.

All public servants are now paying a pension levy. Unbelievably, government has refused to recognise this as a pension contribution. Brendan Howlin said so in the Dail when he introduced the bill to shred the pensions of new entrants. (there was no opposition by ICTU to this measure). As quite rightly there is no separate pension fund in the public service, pension contributions and pension levy are going into the same “fund”-the national exchequer. Yet government is now demanding even more!

This new demand by Government is a device to circumvent the prohibition on further pay cuts during the period of the existing Croke Park Deal. It is vital that union leaders be prevented from collaborating with this new piece of “choreography”

I repeat: These talks will lead to serious new income reductions for public servants. These will then be “knocked-on” to private sector workers as part of the underlying government policy of an “internal devaluation” in which pay and benefits are reduced while the assets of the very rich remain untouched!

Remember: In a reply to a parliamentary question, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan admitted that the top 10,000 income units (individuals or jointly taxed couple) had a total income of 5.95 billion and an average income of 595,000 each. Almost all these are in the private sector.

Why doesn’t FG/Labour take a billion off them. After all they would only be left with “only” 495,000 each instead of attacking public service pay?

Paddy Healy


1. Joe - January 26, 2013

Minor correction first Paddy: “The teaching unions, on the other hand have allowed disgraceful reductions in the pay of new entrants to the profession.” Fact is all the public service unions (including INMO) have allowed those reductions for new entrants. It’s just that in most of the public service there’s been no new recruitment, so it’s been seen to affect new teachers but it hasn’t affected new nurses (or many other grades) because none have been recruited. What the INMO is opposing is a FURTHER reduction in this proposed HSE cheap labour scheme i.e. a further reduction on top of the reduction for all new public service recruits.

On to the bigger issue. It is clear that, one way or another (by agreement with the unions or by diktat), the government intends to cut the pay of public servants again. The question for public servants is how do we oppose that. (Yes, I’m one.)
And we’ve had this on here before, the question might be are public servants going to seriously oppose it? Are the members of the public service unions further to the right (!) and more supine than their “leadership”?
For the sake of argument, let’s say they are not (more supine than their leadership, that is)! So step 1 should be a massive turnout on February 9th. This was originally set up by the unions as a token protest against paying the Anglo tranche (sorry, terminology) – I would say set up by the unions to channel the bit of anger they saw on the pre-Christmas march. IMPACT decided to support 9 Feb cos it was against the Anglo payment (and not against e.g. water and household charges which they support) but already SIPTU are calling it an anti-austerity march. But I think the PS union leaders will now see it as a chance to mobilise their members to show the government that they are willing to fight – so strengthening the leadership’s hand in negotiations with the government.
So we should all get out on Feb 9th. The slogan should be We Are All Greeks Now. And it needs to get a bit nasty. The government’s big thing is to show their masters that Ireland is the best bailout boy in the class. Look, Angela (tips forelock), no riots ma’am. So, if the government sees the possibility of a few broken windows or some such from angry public servants (am I mad? is that an even remote possibility?), it might pull back from its current attack. Maybe, possibly?


smiffy - January 27, 2013

+1 Absolutely


2. Hugh Murphy - January 26, 2013

Do not put any faith in SIPTU. Jack O’Connor is only a government stooge and will do anything to show that HIS so-called Partnership [remember that] which had a large part to do with this crisis is not dead, IF ONLY THEY’LL TALK TO HIM HE WILL GET THE UNIONS TO TOE THE LINE. O’Connor, David Beggs in particular, who sat on the board of the Central Bank and NODDED his head instead of saying stop – are conning workers, LIVING OFF WORKERS, and SELLING OUT WORKERS to guarantee their large salaries and pensions. They and the Union leadership refuse to see that Unions, especially SIPTU became dictatorial and adopted a Pay up and Shut up mentality – as they sucked up to employers – and REFUSE to rectify the mistakes of the past. For proof of what I say, see
http://www.siptupresidentjackoconnorexposed.com and @Sackedbyunion on Twitter.


3. Paddy Healy - January 27, 2013

From Paddy Healy
It is true that the leaderships all unions affiliated to ICTU are responsible for the pay reductions for new entrants and for the reduction in pensions in payment of public servants. All of these have occurred subsequent to the conclusion of the original Croke Park Deal. It was possible for Government to implement these measures without breaching the agreement because the Deal did not preclude them, confining protection to the pay of public servants who were “serving”. No experienced negotiator believes that this was an oversight.
The first reduction in the pay of new entrants mainly affected teachers because it was necessary to recruit substantial numbers of teachers because of the rapid rise in the population of school age despite the worsening of the pupil teacher ratio. In nursing and other parts of the public service there was minimal recruitment due to a strictly enforced embargo.
Though teaching was principally affected the most the teachers unions could rise to was a rally outside the Dail.
The first and further reduction in pay in nursing is only now coming into practical effect. It is to the credit of INMO that they are resisting the reduction vigorously.
All reductions for new entrants and pensioners are not only grossly unfair but will inevitably lead to worsening of remuneration for existing staff as the employers divide and conquer.
The traditional response to threats of pay cuts whether by legislation or otherwise, is to ballot for strike action as happened recently in CIE. But the public service unions have agreed to go naked to the negotiating table. This means that they have accepted the overall reduction in income and are trying to “shape” it in order to get it by members.


4. Joe - January 28, 2013

Latest communique to public service staff from DPER. Haven’t heard anything from my union yet!

“Update on Public Service Pay Talks from DPER

Communication in relation to ongoing pay talks – Week 2

Public Service management, representing each sector, and unions and associations spent time this week engaging in setting out in more detail the sorts of additional measures, to achieve savings in the pay and pensions bill and to deliver substantial productivity gains, that it is believed will deliver the savings that have been identified for each area. Although there are common themes to the measures involved, this work is best done at a sectoral level, since the work profile in one area, say in a classroom, is very different to those of a hospital or an office.

All sides accepted when the invitation to discussions was issued and accepted, that a major challenge faces both sides to shape an acceptable outcome for public servants across the broad range of employments in each sector. While no one is underestimating the difficulties, these talks are the opportunity for engagement for both management and staff representatives to shape the outcome on behalf of the public servants represented. The process of sectoral engagement and of engaging on a possible agreement will continue next week.

Please circulate this information to the staff of all bodies under the auspices of your Department or organisation

Remuneration and Industrial Relations Division

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform”


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