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Correspondence: After the Talks Collapse - where now?
4 December 2009

Dear Trade Union Colleagues, 

 
Please spread this message as widely as possible.
 
Where are we now that the talks between ICTU and Government collapsed this afternoon when the Government walked out? Why Government  chose to reject the enormous sell-out deal being offered by ICTU is a mystery right now - perhapsFianna Fail didn't believe that ICTU could deliver the kind of undermining of our terms and conditions of employment that they were offering.Perhaps the growing desperation by ICTU to offer ever more concessions convinced Government that it could do as it pleased without any fear of opposition. It was after all the logical conclusion to draw from the behaviour of our negotiators.

The following must now be clear to all - in reality it has been abundantly clear for a long time :

1. The Government now intends to cut our pay by up to 8% across the board and plans to introduce greater cuts in the years ahead.

2.ICTU is utterly discredited - it has failed to protect us from this pay cut in exactly the same way it failed on the last one - the so called pension levy; their strategy of talking, appeasement and sell-out has been proven a complete failure for us, as we knew it would be. If ICTU had pursued strike action in response to the pension levy as the trade unions demanded in their votes, we would not be in the dreadful position we are now in.

3. The greatest share of blame rests with Peter McLoone as the leader of the negotiating team and he should play no further part in representing in any form the public sector unions. It is up to his own union members to deal with him within IMPACT. Please sign the petition for his resignation at http://www.petitiononline.com/MCLSTRKE/

4. The General Secretaries of all the public sector unions have been discredited and have jointly and severally, not only failed their union members, but have impeded their members every effort to fight the depredations of a pernicious and ideologically driven government determined not to raise taxes on the better off in society and to balance the books instead by cutting the pay of public servants at every level of income. I fail to see how we can continue to be led by such individuals.  Their statements to the media over the last few days and weeks demonstrates that they are just as determined as the Government that cuts to our income and not tax increases (which they too would pay) would be the outcome.

5. We must now demand and prepare for all out strike right across the public sector. It is obvious the level of contempt the government has for our leaders whom they have been in collusion with for so long. That is what always happens to the weak and to those without principles. We must show that trade unions are not a club of General Secretaries but a united mass of hundreds of thousands of employeess who will stand and fight together. If we don't, we will be treated with the contempt that we deserve and there will be no bottom to the pit into which we will shortly begin to fall.

6. The position of David Begg as General Secretary of ICTU is now untenable and  he should resign. His appeasement of and collusion with Government has made an absolute mockery of ICTUs own policy - There is a Better Fairer Way - which was based on the principle that the solution to the public finances is through the taxation system not through the astonishingly unfair attack on the wages and conditions of public servants. Not even Margaret Thatcher pursued such a policy. It simply beggars belief that ICTU in the persons of our various General Secretaries could have gone in to Government Buildings to negotiate away our wages and conditions of service and at the same time pretend to have the exactly opposite policy. The ICTU General Secretary who presided over this historic betrayal of trade unionists must go and be replaced by someone who is not tainted by any hint of collusion and who will fight for trade union members, not betray them. I would suggest Brendan Ogle of UNITE.

7. All public sector union executives must now call emergency meetings, take control entirely into their own hands lest they be betrayed once again by the General Secretaries operating under an ICTU umbrella, arrange to meet with each other and organise without delay the largest and most determined industrial action ever seen in Ireland. We must immediately use the mandates for strike that we have and as necessary obtain a mandate right across the public sector for all-out strike to be taken by unions together. Remember that an 8% pay cut is the equivalent in one year alone of up to 28 days of strike action depending on how the strikes are scheduled. The cut will be for evey year of salary and then of pension and with much more cuts and conditions destruction to come if we are beaten now. WE SIMPLY CANNOT AFFORD NOT TO STRIKE.

8. All branches of all unions must mobilise for action and impress the determination for action on their  Executives. Executives will only take determined action if it is clear that it is what is demanded by the members. 

Yours sincerely

Martin O'Grady

TUI Branch Chair
 

 

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