Friday 23 March 2018

Audit of finances crucial to plan for public service 'super-union'

Impact's Bernard Harbor Photo: Tom Burke
Impact's Bernard Harbor Photo: Tom Burke

Anne-Marie Walsh

Three major unions are set to investigate each other's finances in a move that could scupper plans to create a public service super-union for more than 80,000 workers.

Impact, the Public Service Executive Union (PSEU) and the Civil, Public and Services Union (CPSU) will begin a due diligence process in the coming months after talks to merge the unions got the go-ahead at their annual conferences.

Following the crucial audit, members of the unions, who work across the civil and public service, will decide whether to join the super-union in a ballot next year.

The powerful new entity would pool the resources of the three unions, including 'fighting funds' for industrial action worth more than €50m.

Impact has a dispute 'war chest' worth €44m, while the PSEU's assets are in the region of €15m, which includes a dispute fund. Among its assets, the PSEU owns and occupies 30 Merrion Square. It also bought the historic 1 Holles Street two years ago.

The unions' leaders have largely argued in favour of the super-union proposal in documents presented to their members. But the general secretary of the PSEU, Tom Geraghty, said an audit was critical "to make sure we're not taking over anyone else's debts".

Impact spokesman Bernard Harbor said it was "something you have to do".

One document presented to members, entitled 'New Union Project', says: "Size does matter when it comes to financial strength. Deeper pockets, with the finances managed prudently, wouldn't go unnoticed on the other side of the bargaining table . . . A new combined union won't be a pushover for anyone."

But there is uneasiness in at least one union. The CPSU recently informed members it has had a "steady but cautious" engagement with the project, but is also considering a merger with British-based Unite or continuing to stand alone.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News