Pay deal hangs in balance as CPSU signals 'No' vote
Published 12/04/2010 | 05:00
ANOTHER nail will be hammered into the coffin of the troubled 'pay for change' deal today.
The leader of the Civil, Public and Services Union (CPSU), Blair Horan, has predicted that his union will reject the draft agreement at a meeting this morning. He also admitted that many union officials now believe the Croke Park deal is "going down".
Mr Horan said his union's governing body was guaranteed to turn down the agreement after representatives of its Dublin branch unanimously voted against it at a meeting last Thursday.
Today's 'No' vote by the union's executive committee will be a further blow to the draft deal. It has been rejected by most of the union executives who have given their verdict.
Public servants will decide whether the agreement goes through when they ballot on it over the coming weeks, and may follow their unions' recommendations. If the deal is not approved, state employees risk having their pay cut again and the country may face ongoing strikes.
"It is definite that the members of our executive will reject it now," Mr Horan told the Irish Independent. The CPSU chief was part of the unions' team that negotiated the deal.
"The extent to which there was a general grassroots reaction against the package is greater than anyone expected.
"Because the deal is going down overall, as people perceive it, although that's not a certainty, they feel more comfortable about rejecting it."
The draft agreement was unexpectedly rejected by the largest dedicated public sector union, IMPACT, last week and has also been rejected by the TUI, ASTI and UNITE.
The INTO, PSEU and the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants have backed it.
Its fate may be sealed on Tuesday if the leadership of SIPTU, which has 70,000 public sector members -- more than any other union -- turns it down.
Under the deal, public servants are guaranteed that their pay will not be slashed for four years unless there is an unforeseen economic "deterioration".
Their pay will be reviewed each year with a view to refunding part or all of the €3bn slashed from wages from next spring, once it can be proven they have made savings through reforms. However, there is no guarantee that money will be reimbursed.
Critics of the deal say they do not want to deliver reforms, including longer working hours, during a pay freeze and with no guarantee they will get any money back.
Mr Horan said he was in a different position to the chief union negotiator, Peter McLoone, who was involved in the Croke Park deal but whose executive voted it down.
He said he had not recommended it as the best deal on offer, like the negotiating team, although he believed his union had achieved most of its aims. Mr Horan said the only aim that was not achieved was a reversal of the pay cut this year.
As a concession to the lower paid, the union also wanted the last pay cut calculated on the same basis as the pension levy, with a 3pc rather than 5pc reduction in wages below €30,000.
Although this was not achieved, it won a concession that means funds in the first pay review are destined for the lower paid.
Mr Horan insisted that without industrial action at the Passport Office, his union would not have won this concession.
But he said his union officials were still set to turn it down mainly because the Government wanted too much up front, with few guarantees.