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Tuesday 25 July 2017

Union pledges to reimburse staff for wages lost in strikes

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

A union has promised to reimburse its members for wages lost due to strike action as protests across the public service escalate dramatically today.

The union for higher civil service grades, the Public Service Executive Union (PSEU), gave the guarantee as another union announced plans for lightning industrial action.

Lo-call phone services -- including Revenue and Social Welfare lines -- will be unmanned across an entire region all morning as 13,000 lower-paid civil servants escalate a campaign to get the €1bn Budget pay cut reversed.

A complete ban on answering the 1890 calls in one of five regions will only be revealed to management when it starts, and will spread to other regions in the coming days, with full-day action from next week.

Civil, Public and Services Union (CPSU) members will also institute random closures of public offices, including social welfare and passport offices, during lunch as 10,000 members of the (PSEU) join the campaign today.

Fight

CPSU general secretary Blair Horan warned the Government it had a "fight on its hands" and hinted strikes may be on the way. He said the union was prepared to escalate action to a point that would "take members off the payroll".

Mr Horan said members had given the union a strong endorsement to step up the campaign at a special conference in Dublin yesterday.

Sources revealed this was likely to mean rolling stoppages that would target services at single departments at a time, but was unlikely to take place until next month as the union must still ballot for strike action.

PSEU leader Tom Geraghty assured his members it would "reimburse" them for any lost wages if they strike over a colleague's suspension.

He warned they would only be paid from the union's general fund if they had clearance from head office before they took action that would provoke disciplinary action.

The national work-to-rule by over 300,000 public servants has had little impact on public services so far, with management reporting yesterday there had been "no major incidents".

But as the threat of a dramatic escalation intensifies, moves are afoot behind the scenes to steer the parties to talks at the Labour Relations Commission.

The Government is keen to prevent state services descending into gridlock during the industrial relations free-for-all.

Its position softened yesterday as it revealed the HSE had made a mistake by ordering voluntary agencies and charities to enforce the pay cut.

"This conference is part of the CPSU's fightback and will send a clear message that lower-paid civil servants will not be a soft touch and will strongly resist cuts to their pay," said Mr Horan.

Irish Independent

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