Labour Research February 2010

European news

Industrial action planned in Ireland

Irish public sector unions have agreed a programme of industrial action as part of their campaign against public sector pay cuts.

The cuts were imposed in the Irish budget last December, following the breakdown of the talks between the two sides on an attempt to agree a common approach to the country’s economic crisis (see Labour Research, January 2010, page 8).

The plans, agreed by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ public services committee, begin the withdrawal of all cooperation with the government’s “management change agenda”.

This will include refusing to agree to redeployment, ceasing to cover for vacancies and the ending of any work done on the basis of goodwill. The unions involved have agreed a programme of mutual support if any members are victimised as a result of their actions.

If the withdrawal of cooperation fails to have an impact, the unions will consider imposing an overtime ban, and may go further. Already one of the civil service unions, the CPSU, which has 14,000 members, has announced that it will ballot its members on strike action.

Jack O’Connor, the president of Ireland’s largest union, SIPTU, has indicated that it is still possible to reach agreement with the government. However, he said that “in order to make peace we have to prepare for war”.