Tuesday 21 November 2017

Pay fears cast doubt on all-out strike move

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

PUBLIC servants are reluctant to take all-out strike action over the €1bn Budget pay cut because it would hit their wages further, a major union has admitted.

Union leaders had threatened a sustained campaign of industrial action over the cut to the salaries of 300,000 public sector workers.

But in a bulletin to its members, the largest public sector union, IMPACT, has now cast doubt over all-out strikes.

The bulletin said most members want "effective industrial action without any further loss of pay".

"That means we have to factor a number of things into any decision to take further strike action, including members' attitudes and their capacity to lose more pay," the union says.

It also says it has "left open the possibility of limited strike action in the future if the circumstances demand it".

IMPACT says "targeted" strikes in individual sectors are likely if employers take disciplinary action against workers who participate, or removes them from the payroll.

It has also been revealed that IMPACT's senior staff -- whose pay is linked to public service grades -- are considering a pay cut "in solidarity" with members. But the union said this should not be seen as a "signal that the union is diluting its opposition to pay cuts".

The union has also warned members that the Government would not simply drop the pay cut that reduced salaries by between 5pc and 15pc.

The information bulletin says the aim of the campaign is to get the Government back to the table to "negotiate the conditions under which it would reverse the pay cuts".

Along with the Irish Nurses and Midwives' Organisation, 55,000 IMPACT members will join the campaign coordinated by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' Public Services Committee next week. It was launched by civil servants and teachers last Monday.

IMPACT said the campaign would escalate without any "knee-jerk reactions" but warned management would find it difficult to operate without co-operation and flexibility.

"Our core objectives are unchanged -- that means we are fighting for the pay cut to be reversed," it said. "Of course, the Government is unlikely to simply agree to reverse the cuts.

"They have openly stated that they have banked the pay cuts and now also want the public service 'transformation' agenda, which unions offered as part of an alternative to pay cuts."



Pocket

After taking a pay cut of between 5pc and 15pc on top of the pension levy, public servants have opted for a campaign of non-co-operation with management that will not hit them further in the pocket.

An all-out strike could eventually end up costing them more than the pay cut.

"The action commencing on Monday, in the form of non-co-operation, work-to-rule and withdrawal from partnership structures, is designed to demonstrate that our public services depend on the flexibility that public servants provide -- often over and above their contractual obligations," said an Impact spokesperson.

The Public Service Executive Union will begin action on Wednesday, with SIPTU expected to join it within a week.

However, the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants, which represents principal officer grades, still has no mandate for industrial action.

Irish Independent

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