12
Mar
13

Sligo branch of IMPACT says No to Croke Park II

Report from Sligo Today – which includes a response by the IMPACT communications officer Niall Shanahan calling for a YES vote. The fact that they felt the need to do this would indicate how worried they are!

http://sligotoday.ie/details.php?id=24822

Talks between Union and Government representatives have resulted in proposals being issued by the Labour Relation Commission, or Croke Park II as it is being referred to.

The proposals are intended to be a follow up to the existing Croke Park Deal.  These proposals include requirements for public sector workers to work a longer working week, to accept a freeze on pay increments, reductions or complete removal of various premium pay rates and for there to be pay cuts for those earning over €65,000. Other proposals relating to areas within the wider Public Sector are also included.

At a recent meeting of the Executive of the Sligo Branch of IMPACT, it was agreed to recommend a No vote in the upcoming ballot on whether to accept the proposals or not. There were several reasons for this recommendation.

The Branch Chairman, Pat Fallon, said that one of the main issues was that it would not affect employees in the public sector equally and that specifically, lower paid staff and women would suffer disproportionately. As well as this, it would result in a serious reduction in pay for staff within the Health Services in particular, who worked overtime and anti-social hours regularly as part of their working routine. In some cases this may result in a pay reduction in the order of 5-10%.

According to a union spokesperson, “The people of Sligo are well aware of the problems being faced by the main Public Sector employers in the area, namely the HSE (and Sligo General Hospital) as well as the Local Authority. Both have been faced with severe funding difficulties and public sector workers have seen their wages decrease, while the cost of living continues to rise. Ordinary public sector workers feel that despite their best efforts to operate vital Public Services during an emergency of this scale, they have not been appreciated and that now even more is being asked of them. And all the while, there are those in our society who have not had to bear a proportional amount of the burden.

“This decision by the Branch executive was taken in order to show solidarity between those public sector workers who will face lesser cuts under such a proposal and those who would be pushed further towards financial hardship, as well as with those already experiencing savage pay cuts in the private sector and those who have been cast aside and left on the dole queues around the Country.

“Therefore the Executive Committee of the Sligo Branch of Impact, are asking those who have a vote in the upcoming ballot to say No and to not be afraid of the Government’s threats or of an uncertain future. As it stands, these proposals will do very little to balance the books on an equitable basis and will only serve to diminish services further by loading too much of the burden on those who provide these vital services. This will be the last ask….… until the next ask,” concluded the union spokesperson.

UPDATE

It would appear that the Sligo Branch is at odds with The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of IMPACT who have now issued a statement supporting a Yes vote.

In a statement to SligoToday.ie the CEC has overwhelmingly recommended that its members accept proposals for an extension to the Croke Park agreement. IMPACT communications officer Niall Shanahan said today (Tuesday 12th March) that the union’s elected leadership believed the proposals represented the best package that could be achieved through negotiation.

Mr Shanahan said “The deal that has emerged from those negotiations is, without a doubt, the most challenging proposition put to public servants in living memory. IMPACT’s CEC has recommended that our members accept the proposals. The decision to make that recommendation was not taken lightly, but IMPACT’s elected leadership concluded that the proposals represent the best package that can be achieved through negotiation.”

Mr Shanahan said that the protection against compulsory redundancies could be of particular value to workers at Sligo County Council, where management was considering the possibility, in August 2012, of making 10% of its staff redundant. IMPACT learned of the proposal when details were leaked from a consultant’s report. “Croke Park has given workers in Sligo County Council protection at a time that they’ve been especially vulnerable. Those protections are secure under the new proposals.”

He added, “Crucial to the issue, when IMPACT members are making their decision to vote for or against the agreement, is the question of whether it would have been possible to achieve something less painful and more palatable if the current deal was rejected? In our judgement, it isn’t.”

Mr Shanahan said that there is no denying that the package will result in loss of income for a proportion of public servants, and changes in conditions for many more. “It’s a stark but undeniable reality that, faced with management’s determination to make €1 billion additional cuts to the pay bill, our task in negotiations was to minimise the adverse effects on our members and the services they provide. But it was not possible to make that €1bn figure go away” he said.

Mr Shanahan said that, by negotiating, the union achieved a number of measures:

There will be no compulsory redundancies.

There’s no cut in take home pay for most public servants.

The package contains measures that will eliminate the “two-tier” workforce introduced when the previous Government imposed an additional 10% cut in pay scales for new entrants.

On increments, unions successfully moved management from its position, which was that all increments should be frozen until the end of 2016.

On premium payments, unions moved management from its position, which was that payment for working Sundays should be reduced from double time to time and a half, and that premiums for Saturday working should be abolished outright.

Overtime payments, which management wanted to abolish, have also been preserved in a modified form.

On flexitime, unions were able to modify the management position on the grades to retain the facility.

The proposals will also see a small restoration of pension levy reductions for all public servants.

There will be no change to the 45km limit on redeployment. Management had sought a 100km radius.

Mr Shanahan added “Our priority right now is to ensure that IMPACT members understand the proposals, and what they mean for them. Before members cast their votes, it is also vital that they understand the alternatives.

“If the current proposals pass, the savings that were sought by management will be achieved in a manner which best protects the lower paid. Protection against compulsory redundancy will remain and 87% of public servants will avoid a pay cut” he said.

Mr Shanahan said that if the deal is rejected and legislation is introduced, the unions have no influence over how, where or for how long new legislative measures would apply. “That’s why it made sense for us to stay involved in the negotiations, so we could shape the best possible outcome for our members. That’s why the union recommends a YES vote” he said.

Mr Shanahan said that, ultimately, IMPACT members would be the final arbiters of the new proposals, “What we are saying to members is, before they make a decision on their vote, use all of the information to hand. There are workplace and branch meetings taking place in Sligo right now, and we are urging members to attend so that they can make an informed choice about their future.”

 

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