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Tuesday 19 February 2019

Eight unions insist they won't be bound by Yes vote

Anne-Marie Walsh and Eilish O'Regan

NURSES, teachers, civil servants, university lecturers and other state workers have warned the union umbrella body that they will not accept a majority Yes vote on the Croke Park II deal.

Eight unions, representing around 100,000 staff, are writing to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) to say they will not be bound by a Yes result, which would mean pay cuts for their members.

Some of the unions, which are opposing the proposed agreement, are threatening to re-ballot their members – some for industrial action – if the deal is passed. Internal correspondence has also revealed that they plan to lobby Labour TDs who they believe are "like-minded" so people are not "railroaded" into voting Yes.

The TDs include Roisin Shortall, Emmet Stagg, Joanna Tuffy and Pat Nulty. They will be asked to declare their stance on the Government's threat to impose pay cuts if the agreement is not ratified.

The unions will meet on Thursday to sign-off on the letter to ICTU's public services committee, which is currently in draft form. Notes on the draft say: "In the event of there not being a straightforward outcome, ICTU cannot assume they have a collective agreement with the Government."

The No unions will also seek a meeting of ICTU's executive council after the result of the ballot of the 19 public sector unions is announced tomorrow week.

Their letter will be sent as 290,000 public servants finish balloting on the deal, which means cuts to premium pay for the lower-paid and pay cuts for those on more than €65,000.

The No unions are the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants, the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland, the Civil and Public Services Union, the Irish Federation of University Teachers, the Irish Medical Organisation, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, the Teachers Union of Ireland and Unite.

IMPACT and SIPTU, which are urging members to back the deal, hold 46pc of the voting power. The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), which is likely to swing the outcome, has taken a neutral stance.

Union observers on both sides expect a tight vote, with one saying they would not "bet their house on it", while a more optimistic official said they expected it to "limp through".

Rallying

Unite regional secretary Jimmy Kelly said the rallying together of eight unions will be a pressure point for the Yes unions.

"We are saying that if you're satisfied with these proposals, that's one thing, but don't start expressing a view on behalf of those rejecting them," he said.

The general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, Liam Doran, said: "You can safely assume that all of the unions who say No will not be bound by the outcome. No one union can fight this in isolation."

He said his union would re-ballot if there was a No vote.

Meanwhile, unions supporting a No vote, will put forward evidence today that the Croke Park II cuts discriminate against women and carers.

An audit by equality expert Niall Crowley will also conclude that changes to flexible working and worksharing arrangements in the deal disproportionately affect those with families.

Irish Independent

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