17 August 2006 Edition

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SIPTU vote clears way for Towards 2016

SIPTU members have voted in favour of the Framework Agreement, Towards 2016, by a substantial margin. Following a nationwide membership ballot lasting just over four weeks, members voted by 72% percent to 28% percent to accept the proposed terms of the agreement.

Announcing the results, SIPTU General Secretary Joe O'Flynn claimed, "Union members have clearly decided in favour of the proposals on the basis of the substantial progress achieved on measures to combat exploitation, the threat of displacement and the proper enforcement of labour standards as well as the wider social agenda. The pay terms will protect workers' living standards over the lifetime of the agreement."

The result follows strong endorsements of the deal from IMPACT and the Public Service Executive Union, as well as endorsement of the Agreement from the National Executive of the Communications Workers Union. While none of these results could be seen as unexpected, and a number of unions are yet likely to vote no, it is a disappointing indication of the level of analysis within the Trade Union movement.

As Sinn Féin Workers' Rights spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD pointed out last week, the party's argument that inflation will wipe out the pay increases is becoming more and more self-evident. "The announcement that inflation has hit 4.2% should be no surprise to anyone," the Louth TD said.

"This exposes again the nature of the pay increase negotiated under the Towards 2016 agreement. While an increase of 10%, with a pathetic half percent extra for the lowest paid, sounds like a substantial increase, this works out at 4.4% annualised.

"It is increasingly clear that this will be wiped out by inflation over the 27 months of the deal. The proposed pay increase is meaningless for most workers."

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