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Thursday 23 February 2017

Siptu agrees to wait a fortnight before it ballots 60,000 workers

Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

SIPTU president Jack O'Connor Picture: Gerry Mooney
SIPTU president Jack O'Connor Picture: Gerry Mooney

The country's largest trade union has authorised a ballot among its 60,000 workers on whether to strike on public service pay - claiming it was time to "re-take lost ground".

Siptu said that private sector workers had already secured pay increases, and there was an urgent need to amend the Lansdowne Road Agreement to accelerate pay restoration within the public sector.

However, it will hold off on balloting for another fortnight at the request of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, despite initially demanding the Government announce a timeline for pay talks by yesterday.

Following the request by Congress, Siptu will now ask their negotiating committees to ballot no earlier than December 1.

After meeting in Liberty Hall last night, the union released a statement which said it had accepted "extremely difficult choices" during the recession.

"We did so in order to ensure that our members and working people generally would hold as much ground as possible and to preserve the economic independence of the country itself," it said. "We always made it clear that when circumstances changed we would take whatever action was necessary to re-take lost ground."

It said that in the private sector, there were calls for pay increases of 4pc from next January and that "in public transport and aviation we have supported our members in important battles such as the Luas, Dublin Bus".

But it said the Government had refused to open negotiations on amending the Lansdowne Road Agreement while indicating "it is amenable to the application of preferential terms to individual groups".

Earlier, Siptu President Jack O'Connor said the union was still in favour of a national agreement, but needed to negotiate for amendments to Lansdowne Road.

"We have always made it clear we strongly support a national agreement. It's the best way for every worker in the public service," he told RTÉ. "You have far more leverage as part of 300,000 workers than trying to do it on your own and actually it's better for the country as well."

Irish Independent

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