IMPACT trade union issues ballot papers on new Croke Park proposals

Monday 25th March 2013

Ireland’s largest public sector trade union, IMPACT has today (Monday 25th March) issued thousands of ballot papers to its members on the new Croke Park proposals. The union’s elected executive, which represents almost 60,000 members working in public services across the country, has issued a recommendation to members for a ‘YES’ vote.

The union has also posted a new ‘your questions answered’ document about the ballot arrangements on the IMPACT website.

IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said “The deal that IMPACT members are now being asked to vote on is, without a doubt, the most challenging proposition put to public servants in living memory. IMPACT’s central executive has recommended that our members accept the proposals. The decision to make that recommendation was not taken lightly, but IMPACT’s elected leadership concluded that the proposals represent the best package that can be achieved through negotiation.”

He added, “Crucial to the issue, when IMPACT members are making their decision to vote for or against the agreement, is the question of whether it’s possible to achieve something less painful and more palatable if the current deal is rejected? In our judgement, it isn’t possible.

“Nothing was left at the negotiating table, and the Government has made it clear it intends reduce the public service paybill by €1bn. In the absence of an agreement, they have also made it clear that that it will legislate to achieve this reduction.

“It’s a stark but undeniable reality that, faced with management’s determination to make €1 billion additional cuts to the pay bill, our task in negotiations was to minimise the adverse effects on our members and the services they provide. But it was not possible to negotiate the €1bn figure away” he said.

Mr Cody said that, by negotiating, the union achieved a number of measures:

  • There will be no compulsory redundancies.
  • There’s no cut in take home pay for most public servants.
  • The package contains measures that will eliminate the “two-tier” workforce introduced when the previous Government imposed an additional 10% cut in pay scales for new entrants.
  • On increments, unions successfully moved management from its position, which was that all increments should be frozen until the end of 2016.
  • On premium payments, unions moved management from its position, which was that payment for working Sundays should be reduced from double time to time and a half, and that premiums for Saturday working should be abolished outright.
  • Overtime payments, which management wanted to abolish, have also been preserved in a modified form.
  • On flexitime, unions were able to modify the management position on the grades to retain the facility.
  • The proposals will also see a small restoration of pension levy reductions for all public servants.
  • There will be no change to the 45km limit on redeployment. Management had sought a 100km radius.

IMPACT says its priority right now is to ensure that members fully understand the proposals, and what they mean for them. Mr Cody said, “Before members cast their votes, it is also vital that they understand the alternatives. Our members are better protected within an agreement. If the current proposals pass, the savings that are being sought by management will be achieved in a manner which best protects the lower paid. Protection against compulsory redundancy will remain and most public servants will avoid a pay cut” he said.

Mr Cody said that if the deal is rejected and legislation is introduced, the unions have no influence over how, where or for how long new legislative measures would apply. “If the agreement passes, management will be restricted to making savings within these terms. If it’s rejected, and the Government legislate to make those savings, they are not limited to the options contained within these proposals. That’s why the union recommends a YES vote.

“There are workplace and branch meetings taking place throughout the country right now, and we are urging members to attend so that they can make an informed choice about their future” he said.

IMPACT has posted a series of frequently asked questions on the union’s website. Members can also contact the union for information via info@impact.ie. The ballot closes on Monday, April 15th.