Wednesday 23 January 2019

No sign of Varadkar delivering on pledge to prevent strikes in vital public services

Made pledge during leadership campaign: Leo Varadkar
Made pledge during leadership campaign: Leo Varadkar

Anne-Marie Walsh

There is no prospect of the Taoiseach delivering on his plan to prevent strikes in crucial public services any time soon.

Leo Varadkar promised to legislate to restrict highly disruptive industrial action when he was running for the Fine Gael leadership.

He said this was because "people should no longer be inconvenienced by strike action in essential public and security services".

Mr Varadkar said services that were a matter of "life or death" - including air traffic control and emergency services - should be included.

However, members of the Oireachtas would determine which services would be affected. This would leave the door open to the public transport network being protected under the proposed legislation.

But a spokesperson for the Taoiseach said the proposal had not been adopted as party or Government policy. "It's being considered as part of Fine Gael's development of a rolling policy programme but is not currently party or Government policy and therefore cannot be progressed as a legislative measure in the short term," he said.

When asked when the party is likely to make a decision on it, or whether the Taoiseach will be putting it forward at a meeting, he said there was no specific date for this at the moment.

Mr Varadkar has said the proposal is not to ban strikes, but restrict them. This would happen by making Labour Court decisions binding on both parties in a dispute. It would mean they could not reject the court's recommendation and ballot for industrial action.

Fianna Fáil has said it won't support the proposal.

General secretary of the National Bus and Railworkers' Union Dermot O'Leary described the plan as "populist bluster", while Gene Mealy, of Siptu, warned that unions would fight it.

Irish Independent

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