Friday 16 November 2018

Talks will be a charade if old delusions remain

Union leaders have a responsibility to think creatively and not remain mired in self-interest, writes Alan Ruddock

Alan Ruddock

Who is for turning? Will Brian Cowen and his Government dismantle their strategy for repairing the public finances or will the public sector trade unions accept that last year's pay cuts cannot be reversed? For now, instead of answers, we have talks about talks.

As Peter McLoone, head of the Impact trade union, said last week, "they know what we need and we know what they need so let's see what happens". In other words, prepare for the murky world of compromise, semantics and opaque deal making.

The unions have refused to abandon their current campaign of disruption (though they have agreed not to escalate it) and the Government, through Brian Lenihan, the Minister for Finance, says there can be no going back on the pay cuts: "There is no scope for restoring the reductions that have already been made."

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