2nd April 2013
RTÉ’s This Week programme played host to a discussion on the Croke Park proposals on Easter Sunday. Bernard Harbor represented IMPACT, whose executive has recommended a ‘Yes’ vote in the ballot currently underway. Eoin Ronanyne represented the Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU), which is calling for a ‘No’ vote.
When asked about his strategy in the event of a ‘No’ vote’, Mr Ronayne said: “There would have to be a period of taking stock, to work out what happens next.” When pressed on the question of what the next steps would be, particularly if the Government imposed reductions in the public sector pay and pensions bill, he said: “I don’t think we would be looking at anything less than strike.”
IMPACT’s Bernard Harbor said it was right to conclude that there is a high risk of something worse being imposed if the proposals were rejected.“The alternative to the deal is far more uncertainty and the likelihood of something much worse for all public service workers,” he said.
Mr Harbor acknowledged that the agreement would result in salary reductions for 13% of public sector workers, as well as other changes to terms and conditions of employment. However, he said that both the Government and public sector management had repeatedly made it clear that change would be imposed, in order to achieve the €1bn target, if the agreement was rejected. “In that event, unions would have no say or influence as to what would happen,” he said.
Mr. Harbor said trade unions were united in their criticism of Government economic policy and that austerity clearly wasn’t working. But he said this was not a ballot on Government economic policy; it was a choice between Croke Park and some other approach to saving €1 billion, which would “be less certain and probably worse.”
He said the crucial questions for people voting on the proposals were ‘how does this affect me?’ and ‘what’s the alternative?’
You can listen to the full interviews HERE.