Monday 5 December 2016

SIPTU threatens major industrial unrest in New Year

Minister Paschal Donohoe given one week to announce new pay talks

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Published 10/11/2016 | 12:20

SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor
SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor

Major industrial unrest is on the cards in the New Year after SIPTU today announced plans to ballot for strike action.

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The country's largest trade union said it will ballot 60,000 public sector workers for potential industrial action unless the Government opens talks in the New Year on a new pay deal.

The union threatened the Government that it has just one week to announce details the talks, which it says must begin no later than February 1.

Speaking at a conference at Liberty Hall, SIPTU President Jack O'Connor said his organisation rejects the assertion that money is not available for further pay restoration in the public sector.

"The fact of the matter is that the Government made choices in the budget.  For example, it decided to continue to gift business in the hotel and hospitality sector with special VAT concessions costing more than €600m per annum at the tax-payers expense.  They chose to do so despite the fact that the industry has fully recovered," Mr O'Connor said.

In a significant move that will cause deep concern within Government, Mr O'Connor said plans for the talks must be detailed by next Thursday.

And he said the talks themselves should begin no later than February 1.

“Moreover, if they do not do so before this day week, our National Executive Council will authorise any negotiating group of members, who are covered by the Lansdowne Road Agreement, and who wish to do so, to commence balloting for industrial action and/or strike action in pursuit of their demands," Mr O'Connor said.

 “This is not the way we want things to proceed.  There is absolutely no doubt that a national agreement is best for all Public Service workers.  Everyone has far more leverage in negotiations for an agreement that would cover all of the 300,000 workers involved, than trying to do it one group at a time, in isolation.  That is why we strongly believe that the negotiations should be conducted by the Public Services Committee of Congress on which all the unions affected, are represented.   It is also actually better for the people of Ireland, who they serve, because of the stability and coherence it provides. "

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