During 2011, ICTU conducted a review of union organisation by means of a commission on
trade unions that had an international Chair and a wide range of analysis. This culminated in
a report in 2013 called ‘Future Positive’ which was critical of the way in which unions were
organised in Ireland. The report included a number of recommendations and, in particular, it
referred to union organisation in the Public Service. The issue of union organisation was
discussed at this union’s ADC in 2013 and at a meeting of Branch representatives, attended
by the ICTU General Secretary. This union’s Executive Committee decided in December 2013
to write to four other unions to suggest exploratory discussions on how the issues in ‘Future
Positive’ and the issues raised by the Commission on Trade Unions might be advanced. In
2014, the respective Executive Committees agreed to consider the development of the
concept of a new single union in order to determine if a better, stronger union could be
produced. The matter was discussed at this union’s ADC in 2014 and 2015. In 2015 a
document outlining the concept and the issues involved was issued to all members.
In early 2016, the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants, (AHCPS), and the
Veterinary Officers’ Association, (VOA), withdrew from the discussions. The remaining
unions IMPACT, Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU) and this union put a comprehensive
document to the respective conferences in conjunction with a motion to seek authority for
the continuation of discussions, with a view to balloting members in 2017. All three unions
adopted this resolution. The following is the relevant text:
This ADC notes the progress made in the New Union Project, broadly as set out in the
document published by all unions, and resolves that the union shall continue to
participate in these discussions, with a view to proposals being put to the members
on whether the union should join with other unions to form a new union. This ballot
of members should take place in 2017.
Discussions between the three unions since the 2016 ADC have focused on three areas;
1. The legal requirements including a new rule book for the proposed organisation and
an Instrument of Amalgamation. This includes details of a proposed organisational
2. Service delivery guarantees to be provided to members of the new organisation
3. The additional benefits that an organisation with potentially 80,000 members will be
able to deliver to its members.
A major issue in any new union is the question of the delivery of service to members.
All parties to the discussions are conscious of the need to provide reassurance in this
regard. The rules of the new union will provide for the assignment of
a senior official to oversee the delivery of service and to deal with any complaints.
This will be the responsibility of one of the existing General Secretaries. The rules will
provide also for the appointment of an outside Ombudsman to deal with any appeals
by individual members or groups of members against decisions taken by Union
Branches, Divisional Executive Committees or the National Executive Committee.
Also, individual members may appeal decisions of the senior official regarding
complaints about representation and/or service.
To underpin these commitments the rules provide that there will be a written code
of service standards that any member may expect.
All outstanding matters will be brought to finality. The hope is to complete this by
September/October of 2017. A ‘road show’ will take place to explain the proposals
to members and to answer queries. The law provides that such decisions can be
made only by ballots of the members of any union involved. It is hoped to have these
ballots in September/October (most likely the latter). A simple majority of those
voting, separately in each union, is what is required by the law to determine the
outcome. For this project to be concluded in the creation of a new union comprising
the three existing unions, each of the three unions’ members will have to vote in