Crunch negotiations aim to end row
THE Government and unions are locked in talks in an effort to strike a deal this weekend to bring an end to the industrial relations strife gripping the State.
Public sector unions may sign up to a new agreement without the full backing of all unions -- once a majority are in favour of the deal. The final proposal is expected to centre on a trade-off of reforms to 'transform' the public sector in return for a reversal of pay cuts suffered by over 300,000 state employees over time.
If agreement is reached, the threat of strikes will lift while unions ballot their members.
The timing of any return to pay levels that existed before the pension levy and €1bn pay cut is expected to cause difficulties at the talks chaired by the Labour Relations Commission.
The union at the centre of the Passport Office row, the Civil, Public and Services Union (CPSU) has insisted the pay cuts are reversed this year.
This could put it in conflict with colleagues as chief union negotiator, Peter McLoone, has offered to accept a reversal of the pay cuts "over time".
But sources close to the talks suggested that differences may be overcome if agreement is based on a cross-union majority. This would mean individual unions may be on their own if they don't accept proposals.
Sources also revealed the Government will only discuss a reversal of the pay cuts once it has final agreement from each section of the public sector on its transformation programme, which includes redeploying workers to understaffed or busy areas.