At a recent meeting of UNITE’s public sector representatives the following negotiating position was adopted:
1. The fiscal pressures the Government face are a direct result of successive policies to cut public sector pay and reduce public sector employment. The Government is fully aware that down-sizing the public sector through pay and employment cuts is highly deflationary (causing considerable harm to domestic growth and employment) and one of the least-efficient deficit reduction measures that can be taken. Persisting with such policies is not a pragmatic and informed response to fiscal difficulties. Simply put, down-sizing the public sector is part of the fiscal and economic problems we face; it is not part of the solution. UNITE will oppose the continuation of this failed policy.
2. The Croke Park Agreement to date has disadvantaged public sector workers. Following on from nominal pay cuts of 14 percent on average, public sector workers have suffered real (after inflation) pay cuts of 3.2 percent over the last two years. This is not only degrading our members’ living standards, it is degrading economic growth and fiscal stability.
Of particular concern is the treatment of low-paid workers. Under the current agreement, the restoration of pay levels for the low-paid was to be prioritised. Given that the Implementation Body has estimated that the Agreement has resulted in savings of approximately €1.5 billion. Reversing the pay cuts for the low-paid would be a fraction of this amount.
3. A further concern is the reduction in new entrants’ pay. This violates the principle of equal pay for equal work. UNITE will be seeking the reversal of this policy.
4. Managerial-led reform does not maximise productivity gains in organisations – public or private. This is particularly the case when employees are experiencing real pay cuts, morale-loss, and loss of important skill-sets under a political management that is indifferent to the loss of service quality. UNITE will be proposing that any extension of the Croke Park Agreement contain employee-driven reforms consistent with best practice in other European countries.
These principles – the ending of public sector down-sizing, prioritisation of pay increases for the low-paid, reversal of the cuts to new entrants’ pay, and the introduction of employee-driven reform – are the basis of UNITE’s participation in the negotiations.
In conclusion, UNITE will make it clear to our members that, in the eventuality of no agreement being reached, it will take all necessary industrial steps to defend their interests.