Friday 19 January 2018

Unions refuse to meet troika on its final mission

David Begg: 'no progress'
David Begg: 'no progress'
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

THE Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has rejected an invitation to meet the troika during its latest review mission after walking out of a meeting in the summer.

ICTU general secretary David Begg told the Irish Independent that their experience throughout the three-year bailout programme had been very negative, branding the EU-IMF representatives as "unfeeling, unreceptive and unco-operative".

He said the union chiefs had enjoyed good bilateral discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on its own, but that his experience of the troika as a collective had been very bad.

"We would have found the European Central Bank (ECB) and EU people particularly difficult to deal with," Mr Begg said.

"In our view, as a collective, the troika just presented as an unfeeling technocracy.

"They were really indifferent to any of the social problems that the austerity programme was putting up and they were just so single-minded about the nature of austerity."

The troika review mission to Ireland, the final under the bailout programme, will wrap up on Thursday after officials have held various meetings, including with the Government and political groups.

It is the first review mission that union chiefs have not met the troika.

Mr Begg said that over the course of the past three years, the ICTU representatives had presented the ECB, European Commission and IMF officials with various documents and proposals about how to stimulate the economy while remaining within the parameters of the bailout.

"But we just found them unreceptive and unco-operative," he said.

"We told them at the last meeting three months ago that we didn't see that it was going anywhere and we left the meeting after 20 minutes.

"We weren't making any progress. To have another meeting after the last one went so badly would have been a strange thing to do."


Meanwhile, the ICTU chief questioned the need for a so-called precautionary credit line, an overdraft facility of sorts, to ease the transition from bailout to full market access when the Government leaves the bailout at the end of the year.

"I find it difficult to understand what the debate is about," he said. "At one level, if everything is so good, why would there be any need for it?

"It displays a certain lack of confidence," Mr Begg added.

Irish Independent

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