In 2014, I travelled to Colombia as part of a ‘Justice for Colombia’ delegation that included trade unionists and politicians from Britain and both jurisdictions on this island. I visited a country in which, over the course of a 50 year war, hundreds of thousands of people had been killed, a country in which over 3,000 trade unionists had been murdered for seeking workers’ rights and a country in which human rights defenders faced imprisonment and death.
Let me say at the outset how pleased I am to be invited to address you here today. I feel I am among old friends. I have been a member of a trade union for over 50 years. I would like to thank Brian Campfield, of NIPSA, your President, for the invitation to speak here this morning and of course Ms Patricia King, your General Secretary, and I go back some time together - to the times when she represented staff in Leinster House and I was a member of another division of the Oireachtas.
The Pay Agreement FAQs document has been updated and can be accessed here.
This is a link to the Dublin Pride http://dublinpride.ie/parade LGBTQ festival programme for your information.
Among other distinctions, the ongoing public service pay talks are the first to take place in the context of the constraints imposed by the Fiscal Compact Treaty. This forces our Government to restrain itself from spending above limits set down in very complex EU rules. So, for the first time ever, union negotiators began the talks with a briefing from our advisors in the Nevin Economic Research Institute on ‘fiscal space’. That over used phrase boils down to ‘How much extra money can Government spend in a given year?’
‘How are the talks going?’ is the frequent and understandable question - but the truthful answer of ‘I don’t know’ is regarded as unsatisfactory. To explain that answer requires an explanation of the process.
Congress General Secretary says strike ban proposal would “meet strong resistance”
There was some “interesting” reaction to the report of the Public Service Pay Commission in our newspapers in the last week. Apparently, the fact that the commission recognised that there was no real gap in earnings between public and private sectors and that there was, therefore, a basis for public service pay negotiations, caused some discomfort in predictable quarters.
In a previous blog, I paid tribute to four women former Presidents who were moving on. I bumped into a fifth former union President, Fiona Lee, in her role as a representative of another union, at a meeting last week. She too has moved on, so that by the end of this year five of the last six Presidents, all women, will no longer be members.
To lose one President is a pity, to lose 4 in one go?!! Well, that is the union’s fate. Our outgoing President, Maria Ryan, advised our ADC of her promotion to AP. Also promoted in the weeks leading up to ADC were former Presidents, Valerie Behan and Patricia Tobin. Add to that the news that former President, Rhona MacSweeney, intends to retire before ADC 2018 and we are looking at a loss of energy, commitment and leadership on a grand scale. Also, promoted in the run-up to ADC was our former Chair. of the Standing Orders Committee, Mary O’Donohoe. I want to say a few words about these inspiring women.
Congress General Secretary Patricia King today (April 27) informed the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe, that the trade union movement was ready to play its part in fashioning a coherent, clear and fair response to problems currently facing Irish society.
During the autumn, the PSEU, Impact and the CPSU will ballot on a proposal that all three organisations should form a new, single, bigger union. Seán Carabini from the PSEU sat down with Niall Shanahan, Impact, to discuss a committee that has been formed to consider a name for the new union.
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.
Conference 2017 sees the launch of two major reports on diversity and equal opportunities. Both reports follow on from a survey of members undertaken last year.