Sunday 21 January 2018

Lower paid civil servants pass motion to ballot for industrial action over unpaid hours

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Stock photo

Anne Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

LOWER paid civil servants are set to ballot on strike action if the government refuses to abolish extra hours they work for free by June.

Members of the Civil, Public and Services Union passed a motion this afternoon that means they will also ask other civil service unions whose members work a longer working week to support them.

The additional unpaid hours were agreed under a previous public sector pay deal and mean that lower paid civil servants do 27 extra minutes a day, or two additional hours a week.

Speaking in favour of the motion, Tony Gallagher of the Letterkenny branch argued that members would have a mandate for industrial action in their "back pocket".

He said this would strengthen the union's position in forthcoming talks on a deal to succeed the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Mr Gallagher said the union should be prepared to put its "stall" out there and stand up for something "at last" after nine years.

He said abolishing the hours would not be a cost increasing claim as such and an argument made that it is not "physical pay".

The leadership argued that the motion should be reconsidered and said imposing a deadline to abolish the extra hours would make it difficult for negotiators at the talks due to begin next month.

Assistant General Secretary, Des Fagan, said this was a pragmatic move as there would be plenty of time to deal with the issue later if there was not a satisfactory outcome at talks.

The Department of Social Protection Committee, which tabled the motion, said it noted Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe's statement that only €290m is available this year to begin the process of pay restoration.

It said the unpaid additional hours could be reversed without impacting directly on the money available for pay restoration this year.

Delegates warned the National Executive that they should take note of the number of motions on extra hours and pay that had been tabled.

They said their normal working day should return to 6.57 hours a day from the current level of seven hours 24 minutes.

"These hours may be considered beneficial by the likes of HSE management but the HSE staff have other benefits that we do not enjoy," according to one motion.

A motion proposed by the Athlone branch said that the increased hours were putting severe pressure on members, leading to health issues.

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