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How did they get away with it? 

Unions boast of delivery of pay and conditions cut

The Croke Park agreement is under pressure from the right. Despite praise from the reactionary forces of the Trioka, the right of Fine Gael suggest that the agreement be terminated or else extended to include a freeze on increments and holiday pay.

The result has been panic on the part of the trade union bureaucracy, who have fallen over themselves to boast of their sterling service in the interests of capital and against their own members. A classic example was a statement by Sheila Nunan, General Secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation 

Nunan said that “the government would be mad” to throw away the progress and productivity that the Croke Park Agreement continues to deliver.

She listed €1.5 billion in annual savings in its first two years. The second report of the Croke Park implementation body showed a total of €891 million in payroll and non-pay savings in the second year of the agreement. This is on top of the €597 million saved in the first year of the agreement.

The secretary boasted that there had been a rapid pace of reform in primary teaching. More than a million additional hours have been delivered by teachers on parent teacher meetings, school planning and teacher training. All of these add value to the education system and have been delivered at no extra cost to the state. She also said 2,000 teachers had been redeployed last year with similar numbers being redeployed at present.

Public servants have already made a substantial contribution to national recovery suffering on average a 14 per cent pay cut since 2009. In 2011 new teachers took a further 14 per cent decrease to their salaries.

“The prize for government is a 20 per cent cost saving by 2015,” said Ms Nunan, “a greater cost reduction than most private enterprises with significant staff costs have been able to achieve. The agreement is a huge prize ...”

“The Croke Park Agreement has delivered so far,” she said. “It is not in anyone’s interest to destroy it.” 

Anyone taken aback by Nunan’s comments should read the statements of IMPACTs leader, Shay Cody – one long hymn to the unions contribution to austerity.

How did they get away with it? By taking the leadership of the initial protests, leading workers up hill and down dale, proclaiming that they had an alternative scheme that would be a better and fairer way of paying and, in the statements of David Begg, by proclaiming that there is no alternative and that the workers must simply bow down before the austerity. They have been helped by a socialist movement unwilling to criticise and who, even now, see unity with the union bureaucracy as a viable tactic for resistance. 


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