16 October 2008 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

Trade unions mull over pay pact

UNITE the Union has voted to recommend a ‘No’ vote rejecting the proposed pay pact for workers and employers in the 26 Counties.
Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said the deal fails to deliver on pay and “stacks up to a pay cut” with workers potentially losing 2.5 per cent overall.
A consultative conference was held by 150 workplace representatives from around the state who unanimously voted to recommend a rejection of the deal to its 60,000 members.
Jimmy Kelly said:
“This draft agreement fails to deliver on pay, it virtually ignores the lowest paid, it totally ignores the right to union representation, and it totally ignores the plight of the one million Irish workers who have no second-tier pensions.
“There is a view that this agreement is the best that could have been achieved. We need to send a message that this is not the case. Workers are being asked to bear an intolerable share of the pain that economic recession brings. In return, employers’ groups are to urge restraint with regard to executive pay.”
At the SIPTU special delegates’ conference, General President Jack O’Connor said they should not reject the deal unless there was an alternative strategy.
He acknowledged that this is not the best deal ever but stated that it has been negotiated at what was “certainly the worst time” for negotiations since the pay agreements began.
Questions were raised by delegates who questioned why the conference was being held before rather than after the Budget this week.
O’Connor replied that this was done so as to not let the conference deflect away from the contents of the pay deal to the contents of the Budget. The National Executive Council of SIPTU will now vote on whether to recommend the deal to members.


Aer Lingus talks continue

AER LINGUS employees are continuing to discuss with airline management proposed plans that could lead to 1,500 jobs being out-sourced.
SIPTU has already announced that it will ballot members in Aer Lingus for possible industrial action. Members represented by IMPACT have not yet made a decision on what action to take.
Negotiations on the €74 million cost-cutting plan will continue at the Labour Relations Committee for the next week. The Aer Lingus plan proposes to out-source all of the airline’s ground operations at Dublin, including baggage handlers, check-in and cargo staff, and to close cabin crew bases at Shannon and Heathrow airports, along with a pay freeze for all staff until the end of 2009.
It is believed that SIPTU is examining the possibility of using legislation on “exceptional collective redundancies” to prevent the Aer Lingus management move going ahead. The act was brought in in the aftermath of the Irish Ferries dispute where hundreds of staff were replaced with low-paid workers.


Health job cuts in North

SIX-COUNTY Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has announced 2,500 job cuts in the Health Service: 700 nursing positions, 900 admin posts and 450 social services jobs.
The minister said he had “no choice” but to seek greater savings and efficiencies because of the financial pressures on his department.
Public sector union Unison’s Catherine Hart said the move could result in strike action.
“Any attempt to move ahead with the cuts to frontline jobs and services will be met with strong resistance from Unison, including industrial action.”
Sinn Féin Mid-Ulster MLA and Deputy Chair of the Assembly Health Committee Michelle O’Neill warned the Health Minister that the loss of 700 nursing staff will devastate frontline health care.
“It is clear that the loss of 700 nurses will devastate frontline services and Sinn Féin will fight any attempt to cut these vital jobs.
“If you talk to any nurse they will very clearly tell you that both they and their colleagues are stretched. To lose 700 nurses is wholly unacceptable.”

Hospital staff picket strike-breakers

CATERING workers on strike at Mount Carmel Hospital in Dublin this week picketed the Noel Recruitment agency which has been supplying contract staff in strikers’ positions.
The workers embarked on a strike over the out-sourcing of their jobs and talks have begun at the Labour Relations Commission.
On Tuesday, SIPTU announced that the 60 strikers have accepted a settlement brokered by the Labour Relations Commission.
SIPTU rep Paul Bell said: “The formula not only protects their terms and conditions but their security of employment.”

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