Union will vote on strikes if pay cuts introduced
"WE should be prepared to bring this Republic to a complete standstill" -- that was the chilling call from one female delegate as she told the annual conference of the Civil & Public Services Union (CPSU) in Athlone yesterday that further pay cuts would make the union's membership the "new working poor".
The Government's hopes of sticking to the terms of its agreement with the EU and IMF were thrown into utter disarray later in the day, as delegates to the same conference voted to withdraw their co-operation with reforms under the Croke Park deal.
In what would appear to be the first significant challenge to the as-yet untested mettle of newly appointed Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, outgoing CPSU general secretary Blair Horan said the union would now have to hold a ballot of members, as was the standard practice when contemplating industrial action.
CPSU members told yesterday's conference that their co-operation up to now had been dependent on the guarantee there would be no further cuts to their pay before 2014. That guarantee had not been kept, members claimed.
Delegates also voted unanimously to take industrial action if the Government introduces further pay cuts.
Contacted by the Sunday Independent for his reaction to the CPSU membership's decision to hold a ballot, a spokeswoman for Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said he would not commen at the moment but would await the outcome of the union's vote.
CPSU general secretary Blair Horan meanwhile said the ballot would force the union to take a clear decision on whether it was in or out of the Croke Park Agreement. Mr Horan cautioned however that a rejection of the agreement could see CPSU members lose guarantees of no compulsory redundancies or further pay cuts before 2014.