Saturday 25 February 2017

Union votes down strikes if further pay cuts imposed

Boss warns that move 'may tie them to Croke Park agreement'

Brian McDonald and Anne-Marie Walsh

THE union largely responsible for the disruptive industrial action at the Passport Office last year has voted against a motion to take strike action if there are further pay cuts.

Delegates at the Civil, Public and Services Union (CPSU) annual conference yesterday voted against the motion for industrial action. This was despite a claim from union leadership that such a rejection could tie them into the Croke Park deal.

Members of the union previously rejected the agreement but have since cooperated with major reforms, including the abolition of 'bank time' that was traditionally given to civil servants to cash cheques.

The union's general secretary, Blair Horan, described the union's position on the agreement as "constructive ambiguity".

Supporting the motion, he argued that members should resist further pay cuts and seek refunds of previous pay cuts.

These refunds are promised to workers earning less than €35,000 under a pay review process in the Croke Park deal.

It would affect the union's members, who are lower paid clerical officers, more than other grades in the civil service.

Rejected

Mr Horan warned if they rejected the motion, the Government may ask for their position on the Croke Park agreement and they could lose its guarantees that their pay and jobs were safe.

However, 111 delegates voted against the motion, 96 were in favour, and 74 abstained.

There was a backlog of almost 70,000 passport applications last April following the dispute over pay cuts.

Also speaking at the conference, assistant general secretary Eoin Ronayne warned of potential industrial action over reforms under the Croke Park deal.

He said plans drawn up by managers under the deal contained "potential booby traps which one thoughtless trip could explode".

Earlier, an attempt by mid-ranking civil servants to regain the controversial "bank time" half-hour was slapped down by their union executive at a separate conference.

Before the introduction of electronic transfer, civil servants were allowed a half-hour off to lodge their pay cheques in the bank.

A motion at the annual conference of the CPSU in Galway yesterday sought to have the half-hour restored.

The Legal Aid Board branch proposed that while it was acknowledged that the banking half-hour had ended, it wanted the union executive to seek its restoration.

Branch delegate Gerry Enright pointed out that some members had gotten into the practice over the years of leaving a little early.

But the CPSU Executive Committee clearly set its face against the motion, pointing out that looking for the return of "bank time" to cash cheques that workers didn't have would make them look foolish.

Meanwhile, the country's union leadership insisted that the bailout deal has to be renegotiated.

Top officials with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions met the so-called 'troika' in Dublin earlier this week.

Congress general secretary David Begg said he told them that the austerity measures taken, and the burden of debt were simply unsustainable for a population of just 1.8 million workers.

Irish Independent

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