THE country’s largest trade union has vowed to “go to war” and warned the Government that it will launch a series of protracted strikes unless a “reasonable” outcome is achieved in the Croke Park talks.
As negotiations resumed this morning with extra working hours and reductions in premium payments on the agenda, SIPTU president Jack O’Connor launched a broadside attack on those unions that have already walked out.
His union and others have been criticised for “selling out” their members by remaining in the talks.
However Mr O’Connor has turned on the 24/7 Frontline Alliance, which held a mass rally of some 4,000 gardai, nurses and prison officers last week.
“It will take a great deal more than the expenditure of hot air and windy rhetoric in basketball arenas to achieve a successful outcome in this battle,” he said.
Mr O’Connor said his members are “justifiably concerned” about the talks process and admitted that some are doubtful “we should be involved in the talks at all”.
There was a view that “bellicose statements and refusal to participate would yield better results”, however he argued that it was wise for all sides to explore the possibility of a negotiated settlement.
“Our team at the talks are working day and night striving to achieve an outcome that would be better for all the workers employed in the public service than a legislated pay cut or what we could reasonably expect from a protracted industrial battle.
“However failing a reasonable outcome we will actually go to war. We are prepared for it. It will involved protracted strikes and all that goes with them.
“While we may not win, the Government will not win either,” he added.