Wednesday 21 March 2018

Union heads off revolt over controversial agreement

Brian McDonald

UNION leaders have headed off a revolt by members opposed to their recommendation to accept the public service pay deal.

Delegates attending the annual conference of the Public Service Executive Union in Galway yesterday eventually endorsed the decision of the executive committee to recommend acceptance of the controversial package.

But many were clearly unhappy at the stance.

During a lengthy debate in closed session, there was criticism of the proposed agreement and the lack of certainty contained within it.

The PSEU represents 12,000 middle-ranking public servants in Government departments, Eircom, An Post and FAS, as well as other state bodies.

There was intensive lobbying overnight as the debate stretched into yesterday's morning session of the conference. Speakers urging acceptance of the deal argued that there was not much stomach for a long, tough fight which would inevitably result in strike action if the package was rejected.

They warned of workers being suspended and a split among workers who needed to be united now more than ever.

PSEU General Secretary Tom Geraghty welcomed the fact that delegates had debated the issue robustly.

"There is a lack of trust there among our members with our employer the Government, who walked away from talks last December," he said.

Mr Geraghty added: "We will have to seek clarification on aspects of the deal, particularly Section 28 which refers to 'no unforeseen circumstances' in respect of a possible deterioration of the public finances."

PSEU members will now ballot on the proposals and a decision is expected next month. The media came in for a bashing by delegates as a succession of motions condemned the "anti-public service bias".

Ronan Stokes of the Department of Social Inclusion said that public servants were being demonised. "This frenzied vilification no doubt serves the business sector well," he told delegates.

Irish Independent

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