Time running out to strike public sector deal, unions warn
THE Government is fast running out of time to reach agreement with public sector workers and head off further furious action over pay cuts and the slashing of services.
That is the view of ICTU president Jack O'Connor, who last night put the public sector unions on a war footing.
The unions' chief was addressing hundreds of public sector workers who met in Galway last night for the first mass union meeting outside Dublin since industrial action began last month.
The action is aimed at reversing the pay cuts in the Budget, which, the unions claim, have reduced public servants' gross incomes by up to 14pc in the past year.
They have rejected the suggestion that there is no alternative to the cuts and insist that the alternative -- a transformation of the way public services are delivered -- is possible and that the proposals will go back on the table if the Government is prepared to negotiate on the basis of reversing the cuts.
Mr O'Connor said: "The fact of the matter is, whether we like it or not, we must lay out a determined programme of action running right into the summer, carefully and incrementally escalating and ramping it up in such a way as to minimise the implications for ordinary citizens of the country -- to the degree that we can --and maximising the prospect of a negotiated outcome."
In a clear message to the Government, he insisted that a fair solution to the issues at stake was still possible -- a solution which linked better public service provision with secure employment and a framework for restoring agreed pay scales.
He added: "All of this can still be done. It is not too late to avoid a major confrontation."