Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Unions Capitulate

Well it was always going to end this way. Despite the early results from the frontline groups such as teachers and the lower paid clerical staff, the vast swathes of mid-grade pen-pushers in the larger unions carried the Croke Park deal. So now we're in for a few years of the reform agenda with the promise of no further cuts (subject to national finances).

The gap in the public finances should be tackled from both ends - costs need to be reduced, but at the same time putting more people back to work reduces Welfare costs and increases tax revenues. Agreeing to hold public sector pay static until 2014 and rely on natural wastage in the system is not going to help close the gap much. It is also landing the next government with a time-bomb. By 2012/13 the agreement will more than likely need to be broken and FF will start playing politics again blaming FG/Lab/whoever for stabbing the public sector workers.

Of course the really interesting part is what will happen with the teachers and other groups that rejected the deal. Will they go along with the majority vote in ICTU or will they continue their actions against the cutbacks? If the disputes continue, will the government declare the unions as rogue and start implementing forced redundancies and cuts on their members? There will be some heated debates within the teachers' unions over the summer break to come up with a workable strategy that protects their and the students' interests without alienating an already hostile private sector.

Just for the record, as a SIPTU member in higher education, I voted against the deal.

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