Friday 20 July 2018

Mid-ranking civil servants vote overwhelmingly in favour of more talks on super merger

Tom Geraghty of the PSEU
Tom Geraghty of the PSEU
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

MID-RANKING civil servants have voted overwhelmingly in favour of continuing talks for the merger of three unions into a super merger.

Delegates at the Public Service Executive Union, PSEU, conference discussed the New Union Project, with a number raising concerns about the possible merger of the PSEU with IMPACT and the Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU).

PSEU General Secretary Tom Geraghty said there was still “a considerable number of issues to be resolved” as part of any merger talks. He said these would only be resolved if conference gave them the authority to continue the talks.

He urged delegates to support the motion saying the ultimate decision on any merger should be made by all members and not just the 300 delegates attending the conference.

Mr Geraghty said that since 2009 there had been increased centralisation in determining pay and conditions.

“We have one employer, the Government, dealing with over 300,000 employees of whom we only constitute 10,000. We are a very small group for consideration,” he said.

He said that while nothing was written in stone, the union was “fairly far advanced in terms of what we want to do”.

Mr Geraghty told delegates the new mega union would include a number of semi-autonomous units, including one for civil servants and one for people working in State Agencies and Companies.

He said these units would hold their own conferences, their own executive committees and all the apparatus that goes with that.

“Anything relating to the Civil Service alone will be determined by the Civil Service part alone,” he added.

A number of delegates questioned whether one larger union would benefit members with fears that small interests would get lost. Several referred to the three separate teachers unions insisting they had achieved greater outcomes despite not being one cohesive union.

Mr Geraghty acknowledged there was certain benefits to a small organisation, including access, but warned they would remain a small player in the field.

He added that as a larger organisation it would be able to provide greater services, including regional offices.

He insisted that subscription costs for current members, which are the lowest of the three unions, would remain at the current level and stressed the level of access members currently had to their executive committee would remain the same.

Concerns were also raised about the decision by two unions, the AHCPS and the Veterinary Officers’ Association, to pull out of the negotiations.

Derek Newcombe of the  Education and Skills branch said that without the AHCPS the whole rationale for the project had gone.

To loud applause from delegates he called on the conference to reject the motion until delegates had greater answers to what was going to happen.

“I feel a lot of people know a lot about this that we don’t know about yet,” he added.

Responding, Mr Geraghty said he wouldn’t get into the reasons why the AHCPS had left the talks but added they were not happy about the Haddington Road pay negotiations.

Mid-ranking civil servants have called on the Government to provide them with a "commemorative medal" to mark the 100 years since the establishment of the civil service.

At the PSEU conference, delegates voted for the medal to be presented to each civil servant, working and retired.

An amendment, agreed by delegates, stated: "The cost of doing this is to be paid for by the State".

Dermot Browne of the Revenue branch said he civil servants do a job which "brings them into all sorts of scenarios from helping people to pursuing people involved in criminality".

He said a medal would be a "small gesture of gratitude" from the Government.

"We think the state should pick up the cost for this one on behalf of the civil servants," he added.

He stressed that civil servants had "done the work, taken the pay cuts and taken the pain" adding that the move would be recognition of "good and loyal servants of the State".

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