17 January 2008 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

Unions to discuss benchmarking next month

THE trade union movement is to meet on 5/6 February to make a decision on whether to withdraw from the bench-marking process after a disappointing pay review issued last week that gave almost nothing to around 300,000 workers in the public sector.
Peter McLoone, General Secretary of IMPACT, said that the report “may have damaged the process and has put at risk the confidence that people have in this alternative system”.
The report awarded small increases of between 1-2 per cent to around 15 grades which are mostly middle management level such as principal medical doctors; many nursing grades received no increase at all. The nurses’ unions are examining the implications of this and many are speculating that the threat of industrial action is looming large as nurses abandoned their proposed eight weeks of industrial action last year as the Government assured them that all pay concerns would be dealt with by the bench-marking process.
The Psychiatric Nurses’ Association has said that they will be taking a “very hard line” towards the report.
SIPTU Vice-President Brendan Hayes said:
“The Report of the Public Service Bench-marking Body confirms a trend in the Irish economy where a relentless war has been waged on workers’ wages and conditions.”


SIPTU push for agency worker laws

SIPTU has launched a ‘Justice for Agency Workers’ campaign for the introduction of legislation to protect the rights of agency workers.
Jack O’Connor, President of SIPTU, said that any economic downturn would see people “forced to compete on the basis of how cheaply they can provide their skills”.
The Government has promised that it will publish legislation to protect agency workers but the trade union movement is concerned that this will not go far enough. Jack O’Connor said:
“We have had the example of Irish Ferries where employers have tried to replace their whole workforce with agencies. We are campaigning for enactment of legislation that will guarantee equality of treatment for workers employed by agencies.”
Although most European countries have agency worker protection legislation in place, Ireland, Britain, Germany and Denmark have vigorously resisted the implementation of any such workers’ rights guarantees on an EU-wide level. 

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