Home > Croke Park Deal, Education > “Public Sector workers yet again asked to make sacrifices” Commentary by Kieran Allen, SIPTU Ed Branch Pres.

“Public Sector workers yet again asked to make sacrifices” Commentary by Kieran Allen, SIPTU Ed Branch Pres.

Public Service Draft Proposals 2010-2014

This proposed deal will ask union members, who have already taken two pay cuts, not only to give up any attempt to restore their salaries but also to agree to extra productivity.

That is, MORE work for LESS pay.

While billions are made available for the banks, yet again public sector workers are asked to sacrifice.


THE GENERAL TERMS

Job Cuts: The proposals endorse the government’s policy of reducing the deficit in public finances to less than 3% of
GDP by 2014, principally by reducing public sector numbers. In this context it makes reference to the McCarty Commission which set as its target getting rid of 17,358 public sector jobs.

These job cuts include:

6,930 jobs in Education

6,168 jobs in Health

Paragraph 3 states ‘This Agreement will enable public service numbers to reduce substantially over the coming years in accordance with a new Public Service numbers policy, which will facilitate a progressive reduction in staff numbers across the Public Service by end 2012

However, cutting 17,000 public sector jobs will help to deepen the recession. It will remove the hopes of many people of obtaining a job – and so encourage emigration.


2. Destruction of Union Conditions:

In order to cover this massive job haemorrhage, public sector workers will be expected to give up long standing rights won by unions in the past.
New Contracts. The draft states that ‘the Parties have agreed to review and revise contractual or other arrangements or practices which generate inflexibility or restrict mobility.’

This is one of the most sinister of the suggestions. If you think about it, it could mean that no-one will be permanent, let alone tenured. It is so vague it could mean any kind of change, and you can be certain that it will be interpreted in a way most disadvantageous to us.


Re-deployment anywhere.
The agreement states that ‘barriers to a unified public service labour market will be dismantled’ and that ‘cross sectoral redeployment may take place, within a geographical area if possible’. Management can first ask for volunteers, but if none are available can compel staff to move to a new workplace that maybe as much as 45 kilometres from their current workplace or home address.

This gives management huge power to intimidate those who do not conform by threatening them with re-deployment.

Management by stress: The draft means that all increments will now be linked to your performance. The relevant clause states ‘’There will be significantly improved performance across all public Sector areas, with promotion and incremental progression linked in all cases to performance’ .
You will not get an automatic increment for years of service as is the custom until now but increments will be conditional on the judgement of your line manager or on a Performance Management Development System.

New Pensions Scheme:
The pensions of public sector workers were normally based on the final year of their salary. Under the government’s new plan, the pension will be based on the average mid point of your salary for new entrants.

And, make no mistake, once they have introduced this for new entrants, it will spread to the rest of the workforce when they discover another crisis in public finances.

Outsourcing: The agreement provides new opportunities to outsource work from the public sector. It allows the government to close down separate units of administration and to lump them under ‘shared services’ which can then be outsourced. This could lead to the loss of thousands of public sector jobs.

3. No Commitments on Pay
The proposed draft makes it clear that there will be no general pay rises from THREE years, until 2014.
This is despite the fact that inflation is set up rise due to rising interest rates and rising fuel prices.
Instead there is a vague commitment to review public sector pay – but this was already contained in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts of 2009.

The only additional clause is that ‘the review will take account of sustainable savings generated from the implementation of this agreement’

And that:

‘in the events of sufficient savings being identified in the Spring 2011, priority will be given to public servants with pay rates of €35,000 or less in the review of pay’

These clauses are barely worthy the paper they are written on because:

1. There is no commitment to restore pay cuts even though public servants launched a campaign for this express purpose.

2. There are no specific figures given about how much workers MIGHT get or WHEN they might get it.

3. The government has a huge get-out clause to override even this vague commitment. This clause states that ‘the implementation of this Agreement is subject to no currently unforeseen budgetary deterioration.’

4. There has been an ‘unforeseen budgetary deterioration’ for the past 18 months – and everyone knows that it is set to continue!

HIGHER EDUCATION: MORE GIVE BACKS

In addition to the general ‘give backs’ there are four additional ones that are required of all staff in universities and higher education institutes.

1. Every staff member will have to work an extra hour a week ‘at the discretion’ of management ‘to facilitate teaching, research and learning. That covers everyone in higher education.

2. Co-operate with academic workloads, full economic costing and compilation of associated data. This is a recipe for more paper work – so beloved of managerialist bureaucrats.

3. Rationalisation arising from a review of Higher Education Strategy. This is a catch-all clause that will be used widely in future years.

4. A comprehensive review and revision of employment contracts to remove any impediments to the development of optimum teaching, learning and research environment. This is a very open clause that will allow for extensive revision of our contract. It could be used to destroy academic tenure. It can be used to force staff to teach in the evening for no extra pay (another hidden pay cut), to stop us going on sabbatical leave, and to force us to work a ‘third semester’.

CONCLUSION:

This draft deal contains no firm promises that we can welcome. On the contrary, it contains many dangerous clauses that will lead to a rapid deterioration in our working conditions.

Not only that, but we will be able to do nothing about them since it also takes away our right to strike or to take industrial action. That is, we will be agreeing to our own complete disarmament in any future fight.

By voting NO you will signal that the fight against pay cuts is not over – and that there will need to be a major internal debate within the unions to change structures, leadership and strategy.

Within such a context, it will be possible to develop alternatives which amount to a serious campaign of resistance to this government.

Kieran Allen

Dublin Education Sector President

Kieran.allen@ucd.ie

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Categories: Croke Park Deal, Education
  1. Angela
    April 19, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Good points, well made Kieran. It is important though for us to be very well prepared for the severe backlash we are likely to get from media, govt and our non public sector friends and family when this “agreement” is finally rejected.
    Threats of 8% pay cut will be followed through with gusto and I am confident that there will be prolonged industrial action which few of us can afford. It is therefore all the more important that we steel all sectors of the trade union movement. We need each other and need to be united.

  1. May 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm

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