Friday 19 January 2018

Unions give pact a 'cautious' and 'guarded' welcome

Eoin Ronayne
Eoin Ronayne
Emma Jane Hade

Emma Jane Hade

Trade unions have said they are "cautiously welcoming" the outcome of the public sector pay talks.

The Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU), which represents predominantly low-paid workers, said the Lansdowne Road Agreement is a "welcome start to pay and conditions restoration".

Eoin Ronayne, the General Secretary of the CPSU which has 13,000 members, said that while they welcome the recognition that the "flat rate increase is the best way to restore pay for low-paid workers", he anticipates there may be some disappointment amongst members.

"It is the fairest way," Mr Ronayne said.

"This agreement puts lower paid people first and I consider it a recognition of the campaign put in by the union over the last period. Our executive will have to study this and they will make the final decisions as the members will, they are meeting on Thursday.

"There will be disappointment and there is no question about this, there will be disappointment that the hours issue hasn't been addressed and that will be problematic."

However, he said overall "from an industrial relations point of view, it was a considerable breakthrough in pay bargaining". He added: "We set out to get a flat rate increase that would favour lower paid workers and that is what it is."

Richie Browne, the regional coordinating officer from Unite who was involved in the discussions, said they are giving the outcome a "guarded welcome".

"There is a lot in it and it requires an in-depth analysis, but our initial reaction would be a guarded welcome," he said.

"We believe it is very modest partial restoration. It certainly doesn't give workers back what they lost from both the Croke Park and Haddington Road Agreements.

"They have endured pay cuts, the pension levy, increased taxes and charges, job losses, cuts in sick pay, longer hours and the increased pressures associated with the public sector recruitment moratorium," he added.


"In that context, ground gained by workers as a result of these talks is limited and only amounts to a very partial restoration of what has been lost over the past number of years."

Tom Geraghty, General Secretary of the Public Service Executive Union (PSEU), last night said the outcome of the talks is "very welcome" from his perspective.

"It's the first time in seven years that we have brought back a potential pay increase for our members so it is positive from our point of view," he said, adding: "It was very difficult."

Nineteen unions were represented in the talks by Congress' Public Services Committee. Speaking on behalf of the committee, Impact's Niall Shanahan said they believe the agreement "achieves the objective of fairness" which was "very much to the fore in these discussions".

The unions involved are now expected to meet with their own executives over the coming weeks to discuss the detail, before balloting members. This is expected to happen throughout June.

Irish Independent

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