Gilmore kicks for touch on Croker pact
LABOUR leader Eamon Gilmore last night refused to set out his position on the floundering public-sector pay deal as he bids to keep public-sector workers and trade unions onside.
Mr Gilmore has attracted the support of angry public-sector workers since the Government imposed pay cuts and has now refused to say whether the so-called Croke Park pay agreement is a good or bad deal and whether it should be rejected or supported.
His repeated refusal yesterday to outline the party's position prompted claims from Fianna Fail that Mr Gilmore was attempting to be "all things to all people".
Traditionally, the Labour Party's stance on industrial relations has tended to be be pro-union, with trade unions still contributing some 2pc to the party's overall budget every year.
The decision of a seventh trade union to reject the pay and transformation deal yesterday paves the way for robust debate at this weekend's three-day Labour conference which will discuss motions on unions' calls for pay-cut reversals.
Amid calls from Fianna Fail's Thomas Byrne for the Labour Party to comprehensively outline its policies on Budget spending and cutbacks and the current pay deal, it is not yet known whether there will be significant announcements in the keynote address by Mr Gilmore on Saturday night.
The Labour leader is likely to keep kicking the pay deal question to touch until all workers have been balloted.
Launching the conference programme yesterday, Mr Gilmore repeatedly insisted it was not the job of politicians to tell workers how to vote on the pay and transformation deal.
"They (workers) obviously have to make a decision themselves based on where they're at. I'm not surprised that we have the most fractious industrial relations climate now than we've had for over 20 years because of the way the negotiations on pay were handled by the Government."
The Labour leader said there was a "lack of trust" among workers with the Fianna Fail-led Government, adding that workers' anger was "perfectly understandable" given the pay cuts that were enforced while bailing out the banks.
Hitting back, Mr Byrne said last night: "He's trying to be all things to all people. On the one hand they claim to support the Government's budgetary strategy, and on the other they voted against every single aspect of the budgetary strategy.
"There really is no consistency or leadership being shown by them."
At this weekend's conference, Mr Gilmore is expected to make the pitch again for a Labour-led government. Over 1,000 delegates are expected to attend the meeting which starts on Friday in NUI Galway.
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