Thursday 22 March 2018

Passport row union in U-turn on pay deal

Anne-Marie Walsh and John Walshe

THE union at the centre of the passport dispute is set to do a U-turn on the Croke Park deal after calling off a disruptive six-month campaign of industrial action.

Following high-level talks, the Civil Public and Services Union announced it would ask its members to vote again on the agreement which they previously rejected.

Speaking after its executive committee's meeting, general secretary Blair Horan announced that the Croke Park deal is "the only game in town" but denied this meant members were "misguided" when they voted 'No' in the first place.

The union's executive also agreed to end a lengthy campaign of industrial action that led to severe backlogs in key state services.

Although the counter closures and work-to-rule action that caused chaos for the travelling public ended weeks ago, the lower-paid civil servants continued other action over pay cuts. Refusal to handle documentation has led to a growing backlog in immigration service applications, while applicants for social housing have been hit by delays of up to four months.

The civil servants' refusal to pass on confirmation letters to allow housing projects to start has been affecting five of the 34 local authorities for months.

Members of the union also refused to cover for jobs that have not been filled due to the embargo on recruitment, or handle parliamentary questions.

The union's executive yesterday decided to hold another ballot on the Croke Park deal, despite the fact that it has already been ratified.

Mr Horan said he was now recommending the agreement to members. He said the decision to go to members again was taken after most other unions accepted the deal.

His officials will now begin consultations with members on whether they should accept the deal, given that most of their colleagues have. Mr Horan denied the practicalities of holding the ballot would buy his members more time before they had to start carrying out reforms.


He said he did not expect the reform plan to be rolled out until September, when the ballot result would be announced.

Meanwhile, the TUI executive yesterday said it would not endorse the agreement.

However, no decisions were taken about lifting its directive preventing members from taking on duties previously undertaken by assistant principals who have retired and have not been replaced.

The ASTI Standing Committee meets on Monday and Tuesday when it will also review the situation. Both unions had been awaiting details of an easing of the ban on filling middle-management posts in second-level schools. Managers have criticised the delay in announcing the details that were promised by Education Minister Mary Coughlan at Easter.

Irish Independent

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