Saturday 1 October 2016

ICTU chief insists it is not engaged in 'secretive' talks to revitalise Social Partnership

Published 11/05/2016 | 14:23

ICTU chief Patricia King Photo: Damien Eagers
ICTU chief Patricia King Photo: Damien Eagers

THE IRISH Congress of Trade Unions is not engaged in “secretive” talks to revitalise Social Partnership, the head of the body has insisted.

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Speaking at the Communications Workers’ Union at their Biennial Conference in Galway, ICTU chief executive officer Patricia King said there had recently been some debate on the development of a social dialogue mechanism.

However, she stressed: “Let me make it exceptionally clear, Congress are not seeking to revitalise Social Partnership and are not talking to anyone, in secret or otherwise on the matter.”

Ms King also criticised the Government for the ongoing dispute among 999 call answering staff. She said the root cause of the dispute between staff at the Emergency Call Answering Service (ECAS) and the service provider BT Ireland/Conduit “lies in the terms of the Public Contract offered to this company by the State in the first instance”.

“I have absolutely no doubt that the only real determining factor for the Government was the ‘lowest possible tender price’. It seems they had little regard for the fact that ECAS cannot be regarded as a normal commercial call centre. That this work involves the delivery of an essential public service, requiring the utmost accuracy and precision,” she said.

Ms King said workers in ECAS are providing one of the most important and essential services to the State.

“Their remuneration is deficient and their conditions of employment poor. When you boil it all down, this situation has arisen as a direct result of the State, using taxpayers money, selling public service jobs to a contractor whose sole interest is in making a profit,” she added.

Speaking on public procurement Ms King said the Trade Union Movement had to be clear in its resolve that it will not facilitate the outsourcing of public service jobs “on the basis of a race to the bottom”.

Ms King said that while there were “reputable employers” in Ireland who engage with Trade Unions and develop collective agreements, there were also “a considerable number of employer advocacy groups who show no concept of the consequences of low pay or growing inequality for workers or their families.”

“They have no notion of paying a living wage or providing decent work. They take the view that the State should subsidise wages with no disruption to their growing profits through current economic growth. These are no small lunatic fringe sniping from the margins of Irish life, their view is well represented among political groupings and even some media commentators,” she added.

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