Monday 26 June 2017

Top civil service union has €1.2m strike war chest

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

A MAJOR civil service union has established a €1.2m war chest to fund possible strike action when the Croke Park deal ends, the Irish Independent has learned.

The Public Service Executive Union (PSEU) has set aside the money, worth 10pc of its assets, in case its 10,000 members take industrial action over pay and pensions when government protection runs out in three years.

But the fighting fund would not be able to support a strike by all members on full pay for more than a fortnight.

The PSEU represents mid-ranking civil servants.

The move came after the Revenue branch of the union put forward a motion that was adopted at its annual conference earlier this year.

The Executive Committee of the union was told to organise a dedicated strike fund "in view of the uncertainty of events post 2014".

The controversial Croke Park Agreement guarantees that public servants' pay and pensions are safe from cuts, but only until the end of 2014.

In return, they will not take industrial action and have agreed to cooperate with a programme of reforms, including the Government's plan to reduce the public service workforce.

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However, it is unclear if they will fully support its plans to shed 23,500 jobs by 2015, as the deal will have run out the previous year. After examining strike funds at other unions, the PSEU Executive Committee set aside a fund worth 10pc of its assets.

As the current book value of the union's assets is over €12m, it decided €1.2m should be kept in "easily accessible liquid form at all times".

Although a revaluation of its headquarters is due next year and would lead to a downward valuation of assets to around €10m, the committee does not intend to reduce the fund.

Tom Geraghty, general secretary of the PSEU, said he was not aware of other unions with funds purely for the post-2014 period.

"We haven't had a general strike in recent times but members are always worried about cuts, and we had our first instance of service-wide industrial action in 2009 during a one-day strike. The reference to 2014 in the motion is an acceptance that that is when Croke Park will wrap up."

In a letter to branch secretaries earlier this year, Mr Geraghty, who is also a member of the Implementation Body overseeing the Croke Park agreement, said it was not realistic to expect the union could fund disputes on full pay.

"In the, hopefully unlikely, situation of trying to pay all, or most, members full net pay in the event of a dispute, the union would be out of business in a fortnight," he said.

Irish Independent

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