Industrial action in the health service and other parts of the public sector is now threatened following the collapse of the proposed new Croke Park deal.
The country’s largest public service union,SIPTU, which includes 45,000 health service workers, has rejected the ‘Croke Park 11’ proposals by a margin of 53.7% against and 46.3% in favour.
The SIPTU vote, however, is expected to lead to the collapse of the Croke Park Deal extension proposals, as they cannot be sanctioned by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) without the support of SIPTU, which is the largest union in the country.
The IMPACT union, which also represents health service workers, has voted by 56% to 46% to accept the new Croke Park deal.
The Government may now move to legislate for the implementation of pay cuts in the public sector in the absence of overall union agreement on the Croke Park proposals. This would put the Government on a collision course with the unions.
Commenting on the result, SIPTU General President Jack O’Connor said that the vote reflected the sense of grievance among working people and public service workers, in particular, ‘that they are carrying an excessive burden in the post-crisis adjustment.’
SIPTU and the INMO urged the Government not to legislate for pay cuts. The INMO said this would ‘inevitably result in major disagreement and a potential dispute.’
The HSE needed to save €150 million this year from planned pay savings under the Croke Park deal in order to stay within budget.
The health executive’s latest performance report says this sum had yet to be allocated to its budgetary calculations pending the outcome of the public service pay agreement extension.
In the absence of these pay savings, the HSE may be forced to cut services to balance its books.
The ‘Croke Park 11’ measures included pay and allowance cuts of between 5.5% and 10% for those with salaries above €65,000 -and the reduction of premium rates for staff working on Sundays from double time to 1.75 times the normal hourly rate.
Other overtime rateswere to be cut to time and half for those on less than €35,000 and time and a quarter for those earning more than €35,000. Staff currently on a 39 hour week would do an unpaid hour’s overtime.
Basic pay of staff earning over €185,000 was due to be be cut by 10%.
The deal provided for a three year increments freeze for staff earning more than €65,000, those earning below €35,000 faced a three month increment freeze, while those paid between €35,000 and and €65,000 faced two three-month freezes.
What deregulation means
In the “free” market in electricity, grabbing water systems was a sure bet: Governments had already paid for the pipes and the market is captive, customers undeserved and thirsty. Thatcher’s England led the way with the first privatizations. In Britain, water bills shot up astronomically for consumers .
Once deregulation comes rest assured gas ,water and the cost of electric services will rise in an ever upward spiral
Workers were fired en masse, allowing Enron to pocket their pay, in violation of the company’s solemn promises to invest. Without maintenance workers, water mains were left broken. Enron’s profitable neglect of the system left water contaminated.
“Maintaining our water infrastructure in public ownership is of major importance for future generations. It is essential that we ensure that this asset is maintained under democratic control and not allowed to fall into the hands of those who would wish to exploit this resource for private profit at the expense of the public interest,” said Jack O’Connor, president of Services industrial professonal and technical union (SIPTU).
SIPTU Sector Organiser, Michael Wall, said: “The alliance will focus on the role of staff in the new company and highlighting the consequences for the country if the process of privatisation of water services is continued.
“The unions will develop a joint policy and actions across the country as the efforts to reduce public ownership of water services is rolled out.”
The unions involved in the new alliance are SIPTU, UNITE and the TEEU.
What IMF loans mean
Take the case of Ecuador
While trying to pay down the mountain of IMF obligations, Ecuador foolishly “liberalized” its tiny financial market, cutting local banks loose from government controls and letting private debt and interest rates explode. Who pushed Ecuador into all of the nonsense why none other than the IMF so their corporate friends could benefit
Statement from SIPTU Ireland
Maintaining our water infrastructure in public ownership is of major importance for future generations. It is essential that we ensure that this asset is maintained under democratic control and not allowed to fall into the hands of those who would wish to exploit this resource for private profit at the expense of the public interest,” said Jack O’Connor, president of Services industrial professional and technical union (SIPTU).
Don’t turn the tap off and let the IMF benefit from Ireland’s utilities
IMF image produced by Alec Foley