Unions offered 'clarifications' in new bid to rescue pay deal
UNIONS will be offered "clarifications" of aspects of the public service pay deal this week as part of a desperate attempt to rescue the agreement.
The revelation came after Taoiseach Brian Cowen warned yesterday that if public sector workers did not sign up to the peace deal agreed in Croke Park, it could prompt strikes and industrial unrest which would lead to "lost productivity" and "further job losses".
Fresh talks will be attended by the Government, the public services committee of the ICTU and the Labour Relations Commission which brokered the deal.
Sources have said that while the deal will not be rewritten, clarifications will be offered where possible.
Balloting is getting under way among the unions involved but it will be next month before the final outcome is known.
A number of unions have said that even if there is an overall majority, they will not necessarily be bound by the vote.
The latest to take this line is the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT), which is recommending a 'No' vote to its members.
President Hugh Gibbons said that should IFUT members reject the proposals, they would not be obliged to accept if other unions did so.
Guest speaker at the IFUT annual delegate meeting was its former general secretary Kieran Mulvey, who said it was the best deal that could be achieved by negotiation in this critical economic environment.
"It represents significant reform of all our public services by agreement and by independent oversight with equal participation by the trade unions and management in the Implementation Body. It provides three crucial safeguards -- no further pay cuts, no compulsory redundancies and no outsourcing without agreement," he added.
Mr Cowen made a direct appeal to public sector workers at the Fianna Fail commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising in Arbour Hill, Dublin, yesterday.
"There are some who argue that their best interests, and those of other workers -- especially public service workers -- would be best served through a programme of strikes, of ruptured labour relations and industrial unrest. This would help no one," he said.
Mr Cowen told the assembled crowd that a rejection of the public sector pay deal would hinder economic progress and do absolutely nothing to bring about Ireland's recovery.