THE Government and unions in talks have come close to hammering out a new Croke Park deal today.
The marathon negotiations continued right through the night and Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin arrived at the Department of Finance just after 7am for further bargaining.
Despite a walkout by four more unions, who represent approximately 66,000 members of the public sector, a deal to secure €1bn in saving was said to be imminent.
These unions have now pledged "war" if the "draconian" cuts are imposed on their members via legislation.
The Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU), which represents the lowest paid public sector workers along with UNITE, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) left the process late last night.
And several weeks ago unions representing gardai announced that they would not continue in discussions, while the Psychiatric Nurses Association were not involved since the beginning.
This brings the tally of those who remained on the outside to approximately 78,000 of 200,000 public servants.
Siptu, the Services and Industrial Professional and Technical Union, stayed within the negotiating process.
It remains unclear what will happen should a new deal be reached – if there will be separate measures for those outside the talks.
But unions have warned that that they would turn up the heat on industrial action if cuts are imposed on their members by passing new legislation.
The Government wants to take €170m out of the €750m premium payments and overtime bill.
The talks have identified that this will include pay cuts for those on salaries more than €65,000. These cuts will impact on school principals, high ranking gardai and other workers in managerial positions.
Working hours will be increased for everyone, and anyone on 39 hours a week will work one hour a week for free.
Sunday pay will be reduced to time and three quarters and increments will be paid according to a formula – some will be frozen and some will be phased out over a longer period.
The talks have also set a radius of 45km for redeployment. This means that a worker can be moved to a new location once it is within 45km of their home or existing office. But Jimmy Kelly, regional secretary of UNITE said that the impact on members was just not acceptable.
"We are proud to be part of the group that is against these (cuts)," he said today on RTE.
"There is a growing appetite amongst our members to go on strike. There is a feeling that unless you stand up to the Government, they will walk all over you. The workers can't take any more."
INMO general secretary Liam Doran said that they would not hesitate to "mobilise".
"Let us be quite clear. If the Government moves to legislate then we in turn will move to mobilise with every means l to oppose the adoption of legislation that will reduce the income that a nurse or midwife receives for working at weekends or an evening which they are required to do to maintain a 24/7 service," he said.
The CPSU said its representatives were left with no choice but to leave on foot of "a series of draconian proposals" which would have a huge impact on the working lives and wages its members.
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