Wednesday 21 February 2018

Leo cannot fulfil his promise to ban strikes - unions

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Tom Burke
Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Tom Burke

Anne Marie Walsh

Unions now believe Leo Varadkar will not be able to push through his proposal to ban "essential" public workers from going on strike.

However, they are concerned that the new Taoiseach might try to put his stamp on the new agreement being thrashed out on public sector pay, as talks are set to ramp up again this week.

Mr Varadkar was accused of a Thatcherite agenda after he vowed that people should no longer be inconvenienced by strikes in essential services in his Fine Gael leadership pitch.

He said he would legislate to restrict industrial action by making Labour Court recommendations binding.

However, some union leaders are dismissing the pledge as a bit of a "flier" and said he would be unlikely to get the legislation through the Oireachtas.

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"One or more of his people were out quickly saying he was not talking about banning strikes, but making Labour Court recommendations binding in some instances," said a source.

In relation to pay talks, they said they were not expecting him to "change the rules of the game, but nothing is beyond the realms of possibility".

"He is an unknown quantity but if you look at his record, he is more pragmatic than ideological when faced with an issue or problem."

Senior Government sources say Mr Varadkar is "firmly in line with Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe's approach".

Irish Independent

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