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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Public service workers back all-out strike action

Breda Heffernan

THOUSANDS of public servants have voted for an all-out strike as the rolling campaign of industrial action spreads to hospitals today.

Members of the Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU), which represents 13,000 lower-paid workers, were 83pc in favour of escalating their protest when balloted.

General Secretary Blair Horan last night described it as a "decisive" mandate and said union leaders would be meeting in the coming days with a details of the strike action due before the end of the week.

He said the decision by the Government to row back on paycuts for higher-paid civil service grades had angered his members and this had been a crucial factor in the ballot result.

The campaign against the €1bn public sector pay cut will hit health services in the Dublin North East region this morning with staff refusing to answer telephone calls from 9am to 1pm. The area covers Louth, Meath, Cavan and Monaghan as well as all services in Dublin north of the Liffey.

Calls to emergency departments will be answered, but those to critical services such as coronary care and maternity units will be screened on an hourly basis and only those identified as genuine emergencies will be returned.

The action is being taken by 30,000 members of the trade union IMPACT employed in the health service and will spread to the HSE West region tomorrow, to the South on Thursday and to Dublin Mid-Leinster on Friday.

The union has warned the campaign will continue into next week and, while management has been given advance notice of planned action for the coming days, it will not necessarily get as much notice from this point on.

Members of IMPACT employed in other areas, including education, local government, welfare and local services, intensified their industrial action yesterday.

Among the measures undertaken were:

  • A refusal to take on work associated with vacant posts, including work that had been done by colleagues who left under the early retirement scheme.
  • A refusal to handle Dail questions and Freedom of Information requests.
  • Staff will no longer work outside of normal hours under time-off-in-lieu arrangements.
  • Members will not cooperate with work experience programmes and FAS graduate programmes.

Meanwhile workers at Halifax/Bank of Scotland (Ireland) have also voted by an overwhelming majority to take industrial action -- up to and including strike action -- in response to the company's decision to cut 750 jobs and close its retail business.

Trade union UNITE, which represents nearly 1,000 of the bank's 1,600-strong workforce, said members had voted 85pc in favour of industrial action. Some 75pc of staff who are not set to lose their jobs have also voted to take action in support of their colleagues.


A spokesman for the union said it would notify the bank's management of the result.

"We will enter into negotiations with them. Depending on the outcome, there could be a strike 14 days from now," he warned.

The union said negotiations would include talks on the level of job losses, substantial lump-sum payments for short-service staff and a suitable long-service option including voluntary early retirement. It also wants a guarantee that there will be no compulsory redundancies in the remaining business.

Union regional officer, Brian Gallagher, said: "Lloyds Banking Group can afford to make fair settlement with its workforce in Ireland. If it chooses to pay a bonus to its chief executive of £2.5m but then refuses to engage with the staff that made their profits possible, then they should be prepared for a sustained campaign of action that will impact upon their international standing and reputation."

Irish Independent

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