Civil service union warns of 'Great Walkout' if pay is cut
LOWER-PAID civil servants have warned the Government that 2013 will be remembered for the 'Great Walkout' if Taoiseach Enda Kenny fails to listen to unions and attempts to press ahead with public sector pay cuts.
Members of the Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU) voted unanimously to ballot for industrial action, up to and including full strike action, if the Government imposes pay cuts or changes in terms and conditions.
The successful motion also warned that the union would oppose any attempt to "tweak" what it described as the failed Labour Relations Commission proposals.
The CPSU was one of four unions which walked out of the Croke Park II talks, saying it believed the demands on its members were excessive. The deal was later overwhelmingly rejected by its members.
Yesterday's motion – which was passed unanimously – was supported by general secretary Eoin Ronayne, who warned that if the cuts were implemented they would not be the last.
"They (the Government) will come again and they will come again, because some people are hard of hearing and they don't get the message," he told delegates.
The motion also welcomed the move to establish the 'Unions for No Vote Alliance' with the INMO, IMO and UNITE in a combined effort to reject the proposed agreement which it described as "antiworker, anti-women, anti-family and anti-public service".
Mr Ronayne said the CPSU would now engage in further discussions with other unions opposed to the Croke Park II proposals in order to build on the unity that is there.
"The battle has only started," he told delegates, adding that he would be looking for further meetings with the unions to ensure that the CPSU is not "wrongsided by others who would seek to get a couple of thousand to change their vote to cobble a deal together".
"Buying off interest groups is no way to solve problems," he said.
A number of delegates had earlier called for the motion to be passed.
Action Maeve McGettigan, of the Letterkenny branch, warned that while 1913 was remembered for the Great Lockout, 2013 could yet go down as the Great Walkout if Mr Kenny failed to listen.
"Enda, we have nothing left to give, and that means we have nothing left to lose," she added.
Earlier, delegates got to their feet and applauded loudly when Mr Ronayne said the union would stand up not only to the Government but to the ICTU.
He told the delegates that the Croke Park II talks had wanted "the kitchen sink and the copper pipes".
Opening the conference, CPSU president Joan Byrne said that the union was now sending out "a clear message to Government".
She said: "We have had enough, we are prepared to fight. We have shown before that we can and will take action.
"We won't lie down quietly while they walk all over us. We have the strength, the mettle and the means to fight "We don't want to have to take industrial action, but be under no illusion, Minister Howlin, we will fight if you don't bin these unfair cuts."