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Strike threat as Croke Park deal collapses


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 Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) also rejected the deal today, with a 95.5% vote against it.

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.

via News stories about the Irish hospital system.

via News stories about the Irish hospital system.

Union pledges to do ‘whatever we have to’ after cuts in allowances announced


The country’s largest union has issued a warning to the Government regarding changes to public-sector allowances.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin announced last night that 88 payments will be scrapped for serving staff.

The full list has not been released, but it is thought to include a Gaeltacht allowance for nurses in Irish-speaking areas and a Locomotive allowance for senior gardaí who use their private cars for work.

They are set be abolished by the end of February.

However, Health Division Organiser at SIPTU Paul Bell said that they will not give up allowances they regard as part of their core salary.

“This is core pay, breach of Croke Park [Agreement], and whatever we have to do to protect our members’ pay we will do so,” he said.

“If people want to consolidate those allowances into pay, which we asked for many years ago, well then we’ll have that discussion.

“But we will not be getting into negotiations where we see the elimination or further cuts in people’s salary, that’s not where we are and we won’t be there.”

via Union pledges to do ‘whatever we have to’ after cuts in allowances announced | BreakingNews.ie.

via Union pledges to do ‘whatever we have to’ after cuts in allowances announced | BreakingNews.ie.

Unions seek €330m from Aer Lingus and DAA to resolve pension deficit row


Unions at Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority say the two companies will have to contribute at least €330m between them to resolve the row over the €750m deficit in their joint pension scheme.

Management and unions at the two aviation companies have been locked in complex negotiations to address the deficit at the scheme known as the Irish Aviation Superannuation Scheme (IASS).

Last week, SIPTU withdrew strike notice to allow negotiations to continue.

The latest figures are contained in a submission sent by Irish Congress of Trade Unions Industrial Officer Liam Berney to the talks chairman, Labour Relations Commission Chief Executive Kieran Mulvey.

Unions calculate that Aer Lingus would have to contribute at least €200m, with the DAA paying €130m, to ensure that members receive the pension benefits they have expected from the IASS.

The unions say that stringent pension regulations and the unwillingness of employers to increase contributions to the existing scheme could force its wind-up.

The DAA said it was currently in a process at the Labour Relations Commission in relation to the pension issue.

It said that based on actuarial advice, the DAA offer would deliver a substantial pension for DAA staff at retirement.

It described SIPTU’s earlier description of the DAA’s offer as “derisory” as a misrepresentation of the facts.

Aer Lingus said it remained committed to finding an appropriate solution to the issues involving the pension scheme.

Aer Lingus and the DAA have proposed freezing the current defined benefit scheme, and using the assets to buy sovereign bonds to fund benefits.

In future staff from the two companies would belong to two separate defined contribution schemes – which carry more risk for the employee.

The document notes that settling the dispute over the pension deficit will bring considerable benefits to the employers, by transferring risk from the employers to the employees, by improving the balance sheets of both companies, and by enhancing the Aer Lingus share price.

However, it also warns that employees stood to lose a considerable portion of their expected benefits.

Informed sources noted that legal action could not be ruled out, either by shareholders in Aer Lingus objecting to further payments to pension funds, or from deferred members or retired members of the scheme, who are not represented at the negotiations.

It also remains to be seen what position will be adopted by the trustees of the IASS, who have ultimate legal and financial responsibility for the scheme.

via Unions seek €330m from Aer Lingus and DAA to resolve pension deficit row – RTÉ News.

via Unions seek €330m from Aer Lingus and DAA to resolve pension deficit row – RTÉ News.

Transport Minister Varadkar calls for agreement before airports strike over pension – National News – Independent.ie


TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar has called on all parties to reach agreement before a strike grounds operations at the country’s main airports.

Passengers have been warned they face disruption on Monday when staff at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports stage rolling work stoppages over a pensions row.

Aer Lingus has threatened to sue Siptu, its officials and members for two million euro a day for losses, while Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) will seek an injunction against the action at the High Court on Friday.

Mr Varadkar urged stakeholders in the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme to renew their efforts to reach agreement.

Talks aimed at resolving the dispute at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) have been continuing since January.

“Minister Varadkar, who has been in regular contact with the stakeholders, said he is encouraging them to use the State machinery to resolve the current difficulties regarding the pension scheme,” his spokesman said.

“The minister said a renewed focus is necessary in order to avoid the proposed industrial action on Monday, which would cause huge inconvenience to the travelling public.”

The dispute centres on the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme, a pension pot jointly operated by DAA, Aer Lingus and SR Technics, which left Ireland in recent years.

The scheme has about 15,000 members but was in deficit by some €700m at the end of 2011.

Unions want Aer Lingus and the DAA to make significant investments to close the deficit in the fund.

Other unions involved in the dispute include Impact, Unite, Mandate and the TEEU, but they have not served notice of industrial action.

DAA maintains the stoppages are unwarranted while the industrial relations machinery of the state is fully engaged with this issue.

It is taking its court case amid claims some members, including fire, police and search units, cannot take industrial action because of existing agreements.

Elsewhere Aer Lingus said it has not breached collective agreements and warned it will hold Siptu and all relevant officers, officials and members personally liable in respect of the losses sustained if industrial action goes ahead.

The move could financially cripple Siptu, which has vowed to proceed with the action as planned.

via Transport Minister Varadkar calls for agreement before airports strike over pension – National News – Independent.ie.

via Transport Minister Varadkar calls for agreement before airports strike over pension – National News – Independent.ie.

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