VOL. 2 - ISSUE 16


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The Public Service Committee of Congress expects to receive some clarification of aspects of the Proposals for Agreement on Public Service Pay and Reform before they go to a full ballot of SIPTU public sector members over the coming weeks.

At its meeting on Wednesday (21st April) the Executive Council of Congress agreed that General Secretary, David Begg, would meet with the Chief Executive of the Labour Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey, in order to clarify certain elements of the detailed proposals.
Kieran Mulvey and LRC Chairman Kevin Foley chaired the talks which led to the proposals at Croke Park in late March.

Union leaders at the Congress meeting said that members required more certainty from Government over its commitment to restore monies taken from public service workers last year as well as guarantees that there will be no compulsory redundancies.


Congress and SIPTU President, Jack O'Connor, said that many public service workers believed that "they would be kicked from pillar to post" in the proposed reorganisation of the public service.
"That is not what our negotiators agreed to nor is it what the people on the other side envisage because they know that any such development would bring about the collapse of it."
He said it would be useful if it were clarified that "the objective of the exercise is to achieve a re-organisation in the public interest in a manner that is compatible with the interest of people who work in the public service."

GerryMcCormackNewSIPTU workers at Kingspan Ltd., in Kingscourt, county Cavan, are to commence strike action from Friday 30th April.
This follows the decision by the company to lock out SIPTU members from that date in its attempts to enforce wage cuts and significantly reduce conditions of employment at the Kingscourt plant.
The company has sought to impose an 11% reduction in rates of pay for production staff, to reduce shift allowances, over time rates and bonuses and to impose a 33% reduction in the rates of pay for new entrants.
The company has claimed that it is seeking to align production costs at Kingspan with another plant it owns in Holywell in Wales where it also manufactures steel panels for the construction industry.
However, SIPTU and independent analysts commissioned by both the Union and the company have disputed the company's claim that there is any significant differential in the production costs between the Kingscourt and Holywell operations.
According to SIPTU Divisional Organiser, Gerry McCormack, the Union is willing to eliminate the marginal cost differential that exists between the two operations but claimed that the company is engaged in a wage cutting agenda at the Cavan plant.
He also accused the company of providing misleading information on the cost differential to a recent Labour Court hearing in order to support its wage cutting agenda.
He said the company was locking out its production workers because they have pursued low level industrial action to defend their wages and conditions of work while it continues to pay out high salaries to its executives.
"We are prepared to eliminate the marginal differential in production costs that has been identified between the Kingscourt and Holywell plants but our members are not prepared to have their rates of pay and conditions savaged on the basis of inaccurate information which the company has provided to the Labour Court," Gerry McCormack said.

Over 90 production line workers are expected to join the strike. SIPTU is also seeking compensation for workers who have been subjected to unilateral pay cuts and for full redundancy terms for 20 workers laid off since June 2009.

PatCareyTDSIPTU and community organisations across the country are calling on the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs (DCEGA) Pat Carey TD, to ensure that steps are taken and fair procedures are implemented to prevent the closure of the Dublin Inner City Partnership (DICP).
Pobal, the State funding administrators, took the decision to end its contract with DICP on the 30th May. This will effectively close the DICP with the loss of four employees that have years of invaluable experience in the community sector. 
It will also jeopardise the important work of the DICP in assisting the most vulnerable communities across the inner city of Dublin.
On Friday 16th April, the Board of Management of DICP took a decision to appeal Pobal's decision to discontinue its funding.
The Board's decision is supported by SIPTU which will represent the workers' interests within the appeals process. 
The threat to the survival of the DICP follows the recent closures of 14 Community Development Programmes (CDPs) across Dublin with the loss of more than 40 jobs and vital services.
Gerry Flanagan, Community Branch Organiser stated that; "SIPTU will give full support to the members concerned in relation to the appeals mechanism to ensure the continuation of their employment and the survival of the Dublin Inner City Partnership".
The DICP has been to the forefront in tackling long term unemployment and acute poverty in Dublin inner city for almost twenty years. Its closure will have serious consequences for the inner city community.
Not only will four highly skilled workers be laid off, but the future of the Inner City Employment Service with four Local Employment Centres employing 16 staff will also be put at risk.
Seven other community based organisations with twelve workers, which work on behalf of the DICP, also face an uncertain future. Many other community organisations that work in co-operation with the DICP will also be affected.
With the impact from the current recession and the severe increase in poverty and unemployment in the most disadvantaged areas in the inner city, the expertise and commitment of the DICP is needed more than ever to lead and coordinate an effective and targeted response.
PadraigHeverinNewThe National Nursing Council of SIPTU has repeated its request that the Nursing Board (An Bord Altranais) reduce the fees which nurses and midwives pay for their registration and retention. 
Speaking after a meeting of the Council on Tuesday (20th April) Padraig Heverin, President of the National Nursing Council stated;
"We wrote to An Bord Altranais in December requesting a reduction in the fees in light of the pay deductions suffered by our members working in the public service. This issue was discussed at length and some members of the Council expressed the view that nurses should discontinue payment of their fees in order to force the Board to reduce them. However, we have learned of the establishment of a sub-group of Board members to examine fees and costs. We are now calling on the Board to ensure that any savings as a result of this are passed on to nurses and midwives."
He said there was a potential for significant savings if An Bord Altranais desisted from the employment of barristers at Fitness to Practice hearings.
"As far as we are aware there is no requirement in the legislation for the Board's use of barristers in Fitness to Practice Hearings. We are hopeful that this sub-group will look closely at this practice as a potential area for savings which can be passed on to nurses and midwives through a reduction in the fees," Padraig Heverin said. 
The registration fee is currently €145.00 (for Irish trained nurses and midwives) while the annual retention fee is €85.00.

TerryCaseyMLSANewThe Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MSLA) has agreed to support the Proposals for Agreement on Public Pay and Reform.
At the MLSA AGM in Castlecourt Hotel, Westport, county Mayo, on Saturday (17th April) delegates endorsed the recommendation of the Executive Committee to accept the Public Service Proposals 2010 - 2014.
However, the endorsement is conditional on obtaining a temporary pause in the cold laboratory procurement process to allow for meaningful engagement on the reconfiguration of the pathology service, as provided for in the proposed agreement.
The MLSA will seek discussions with the HSE on this issue in the coming days.
The MLSA represents over 2,000 medical scientists, the majority of whom work in public service laboratories.
Terry Casey, General Secretary of the MLSA, said;
"Our assessment of the Public Service proposals is that, on balance, they provide our members with a clear mechanism for laboratory reconfiguration which obliges the HSE to firstly consult with all stakeholders in order to agree a plan to address the service changes necessary to retain services in-house rather than outsourcing parts of the service to the private sector."
Addressing the AGM, SIPTU General President and ICTU President, Jack O 'Connor, said;
"It's the best strategy in the medium term because it affords workers influence in the re-structuring of the public service, which is inevitable. In the absence of this it will be driven exclusively by the interests of those who are motivated only by profit. These proposals simultaneously offer certainty on jobs, pay and pensions while providing a framework for restoring pay scales over time."
The MLSA, which is affiliated to SIPTU, will commence a ballot of its members shortly.

JoeOFlynnSIPTU General Secretary, Joe O'Flynn, addressed the Labour Party Conference in Galway on Saturday (17th April).

"Chairman, delegates, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to address the Labour Party conference in the wonderful west of Ireland city of Galway.
It is clear that the Irish economy remains among the weakest in Europe and that there is little sign of sustained recovery in the short to medium term.
We are in the deepest recession in decades with the second highest rate of unemployment in the Eurozone, and almost 40% higher than the EU average.
We are witnessing a new wave of emigration by the best and brightest of our young people.
The majority of people, not just PAYE workers the unemployed and those who provide, or depend on public services, are suffering from the economic collapse and the melt down of our financial and banking system.
Among working families there is a deep and understandable anger at the manner in which this proud country and economy has been destroyed by the reckless behaviour of a golden circle aided and abetted by government mismanagement and look the other way regulation.
Last year, the Government over two budgets placed the burden of recovery on workers and made no attempt to make those responsible for this crisis, or those who benefitted hugely from the good times, bear their responsibility.
The banking bail out and particularly the injection of vast amounts of public money into a failed bank, Anglo-Irish, has merely served to intensify the anger among ordinary people who rightly fear for their future, their childrens' future and their grand childrens' future.
This anger in no small way has fuelled distrust with government and a rejection by many in the public service of the recent Proposals for Agreement on Public Service Pay and Reform.
The National Executive Council of SIPTU deliberated long and hard on these proposals before deciding that the balance of advantage for public service workers rests with acceptance of these proposals.
They are an imperfect remedy for the unprecedented times we are in. They certainly would benefit from greater clarification particularly in relation to the Governments commitment to restore the pay scales so ruthlessly cut last year.
But these proposals offer security on jobs pay and pensions and provide a framework for recovering lost ground as well as, crucially, affording union members equal influence in the vital process of restructuring the public service.
For more than a year there has been a campaign of vilification against those who work in the public service and an orchestrated attempt to divide them from our colleagues in the private sector.
It has been promoted by those who seek to reduce wages across the economy as a means of simulating currency devaluation. The result of this campaign, and of the Government policies which mirror it, has been to deepen the recession and to suck confidence out of the economy.
Last year, Congress put forward a coherent and realistic 10 point plan to restore the economic fortunes of this country by sustaining, and creating new, jobs while protecting the homes and pensions of ordinary workers.  
Those policies are now needed more than ever and I urge you, delegates, to support and promote solutions to this unprecedented crisis which are based on the interests of the majority of our people rather than of the chosen 1% that control 40% of the wealth of this country."

This new exhibition examines the decade of disturbance between 1913 and 1923, from the Dublin Lockout, through the Easter Rising to the end of the Civil War.

The social, economic and cultural background to the Rising is explored, concentrating on the political dimension and the personalities involved. The exhibition describes the main events of Easter Week, outlining the locations of the garrisons and incorporating biographical details of the leaders. An original copy of the Proclamation of the Republic, as read by Pádraig Pearse outside the General Post Office on Easter Monday, occupies a central position in the exhibition.

The change in public opinion to one of support for the Rising, triggered by the execution of 16 of the leaders, is examined. In the immediate aftermath of the Rising, thousands of insurgents were interned in various prisons, and examples of the nationalistic artworks produced by these prisoners are exhibited. The War of Independence (1919 - 1921), culminating in the Anglo-Irish Treaty, and the Civil War (1922 - 1923), are also examined.

There is also a unique opportunity to view the beautifully illuminated manuscript Leabhar na hAiséirghe (Book of the Resurrection), created by the artist-scribe Art O'Murnaghan between 1922 and 1951 to commemorate those who had died in the struggle for independence, and to celebrate the 'resurgent spirit of the nation'.

Location: National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, Benburb St, Dublin 7.
libertyhall The decision by Bank of Ireland Chief Executive, Richie Boucher, to forgo his €1.5 million pension top-up illustrates, however belatedly, that the concerns of trade unions and the wider public over the outrageous behaviour of a banking elite cannot be ignored.

The debacle also shows how far senior figures in banking and other financial institutions are removed from the everyday financial demands and constraints faced by working people and their families.

In response to the banking bailouts and revelations of massive payments to those responsible for the current economic collapse, many public service workers are tempted to adopt "a plague on all their houses" position in relation to the Proposals on Public Service Pay and Reform.

The National Executive Council of SIPTU has argued that these proposals offer the surest way of protecting jobs, pay and pensions, while providing a framework for restoring pay scales over time. They also afford workers influence in the inevitable restructuring of our public services.

The alternative is to escalate the current campaign of industrial action and the outcome of such a confrontation would be difficult to call. It would certainly cause pain on all sides but it would also, inevitably, provide further excuse for the profit hungry privatisation lobby that seeks to outsource whole swathes of the public service. 
And at the end of the day, we would still be faced with the consequences of the economic mess which will mean scarcity of resources for public service provision for a long time.

Jack O'Connor
SIPTU General President
Labour Party Finance spokesperson, Joan Burton, says the latest Eurostat figures confirm worst fears about Anglo-Irish Bank.

"The announcement from Eurostat today (Thursday 22nd April) confirms what the Government and Minister Brian Lenihan have sought to conceal - that the €4bn pumped into Anglo Irish last year was counted as part of Ireland's deficit.

The upwards revision of Ireland's deficit from 11.8% to 14.3% comes purely as a result of the €4bn of taxpayers' money poured into Anglo Irish Bank. Consistently during Dáil debates, the Minister tried to magic away the €4bn in taxpayers money pumped into Anglo. Now, Eurostat says differently, and corrects the government's calculations.

The government describes the upward revision of Ireland's deficit from 11.8% to 14.3% of GDP as merely technical re-classification of the 2009 General Government Deficit. This is a breathtaking attempt to airbrush out of economic history the financial consequences of the €4bn injection into Anglo Irish Bank.

At 14.3% of GDP, Eurostat now confirms that Ireland's deficit was the biggest in Europe for 2009.

Eurostat now quantifies Ireland's national debt at 64% of GDP, or €105bn, up nearly 20% in each of the last two years. From being one of the least indebted countries in Europe, Ireland is now well on its way to being one of the most indebted, especially when the impending mass issue of NAMA bonds is factored into the equation.

Interest on the €4bn borrowed last year to keep Anglo breathing will cost in the region of €180m every single year. We now know that this was only a down payment. Bailing out Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide alone is set to cost €2bn per year for the next decade, equivalent to hiking the standard rate of tax from 20% to 25%. To date, the Minister has tried to airbrush these facts from his budget arithmetic.

Fianna Fáil's mismanagement of the economy, the public finances and the banking crisis will leave a lasting legacy of higher debt, higher interest payments, and higher taxes to pay for it. They are leaving a scorched earth for future generations."


Speaking in the Dail on Wednesday (21st April) on the Central Bank Reform Bill Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD questioned the role of two Government appointed Public Interest Directors on the Board of Anglo Irish Bank.
Addressing the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, the county Louth TD said;
"Minister, you appointed two Public Interest Directors to the board of Anglo and from 11 Dec 2008 they had been attending Board meetings of the Bank. Frank Daly was appointed Chairman of the Audit Committee of Anglo and Alan Dukes is now Chairman designate of Anglo. You nationalised Anglo on 15 January 2009. Now I was under the impression that both these public interest directors were there to be our eyes and ears in Anglo.
Well, if so, I would like to know what they were doing in February 2009 when they actually signed, without so much as a murmur, a set of Audited Accounts for Anglo which indicated the bank had made a pre tax profit of €784m. Now, lest we forget, the dogs on the street knew there was a problem in this bank, a fact only confirmed some weeks ago when the profit of €784m suddenly became a loss of €12.7 billion. 
People deserve to know how these Accounts were issued with the tacit approval of two Government appointed directors, showing a Profit of €784m when clearly there was no such profit. Furthermore, Mr. Daly's role as Chairman of the Audit Committee in Anglo where he presumably had some interaction with the banks Auditors, Ernst & Young who issued an unqualified audit report, makes this all the more bizarre.
But perhaps the most amazing contradiction in all of this is that Frank Daly, not long after signing a set of Accounts showing a profit that never existed, becomes chairman of NAMA. And of course we all know what NAMA thinks of Anglo's numbers - total rubbish.
We must now ask, is it acceptable that an individual who as a Public Interest director, signs a set of financial statements for a state body stating there was a profit when there wasn't, then becomes chairman of another institution which takes an entirely different view of those same set of numbers, culminating in a €12b loss the following year.
What purpose have these Public Interest Directors served? Do they contact you Minister every month with a set of Monthly Management Accounts to let you know how these businesses are doing? Do you talk to them? Did you talk to Frank Daly after he signed a set of accounts in February 2009 indicating a Profit at Anglo Irish Bank? Did you believe him when or if he told you?"
Speculation on the Greek fiscal position reached fever pitch again with a rise in the spreads or gap between Greek and German sovereign bonds to an 11 year high. Despite weeks of reassurances and pledges of support by the EU for Greece, the yields on Greek government bonds soared last week, prompting the EU Council of Finance Ministers to announce €30bn in standby support. The process was set in motion last Thursday with the formal request for a form of assistance by the Greeks. A further €15bn would come from the IMF. It is believed that Ireland would contribute €450m, which if loaned at an interest rate of approximately 5.3% should yield some gain for Ireland with an average cost of borrowing at 4.5%.
However, on a different note about Iceland, the Special Investigation Commission set up to investigate the banking crisis published a 2000 page report last week, where blame for the crisis was attributed to the Prime Minister, Head of the Central Bank, Banking minister and Financial regulator, for their failures to adequately act during the boom and during the crisis.
Two reports on the banking crisis in Ireland are due to be completed by the end of May and will be put before the Houses of the Oireachtas towards the end of the year. However they will only cover the period up to September 2008 before the introduction of the State backed bank guarantee.
At the Oireachtas committee on Finance, Chief Executive of NAMA, Brendan McDonagh revealed a torrid picture of the legacy with which the State is now encumbered, as a result of sheer recklessness and greed pursued by the banking institutions during the boom years. The news that there was poor documentation of loans, problems of inadequate title, 100% loan to value ratios in the mortgages and that a much higher number of loans (40%) are now non-performing, than was originally anticipated (33%), seems to have been greeted with shock. But what is more shocking is that NAMA and the Dept of Finance should sound surprised at these findings.
The first NAMA business plan was published last September projecting that NAMA would be self sufficient from year 1 and that it would yield a profit after year 10. This business plan was used to garner public support for NAMA, but what is truly shocking is that the participating banks' own account of their finances formed the basis of the plan. The experience of the banks' owning up to the true scale of their troubled assets has been very poor to date and it should come as no surprise that NAMA will now have to publish a radical revision of the business plan this June.
By Marie Sherlock, SIPTU Research Department


OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, met G20 Labour ministers in Washington on Tuesday (20th April).

He addressed the challenges facing the global economy and concerns over a "jobless recovery" and persistently high unemployment:

"Most OECD economies are exiting from the recession straight into the major policy challenge of balancing two apparently contradictory needs: to tackle unacceptably high unemployment and simultaneously reduce unsustainably high fiscal deficits", he said.

"The recovery is underway but it will not be strong enough to bring the millions of new unemployed back to work. We expect 1.9% average GDP growth in the OECD area for 2010 and 2.5% for 2011. Much of the recovery is still policy-driven; but this can't go on for long," he said.

The OECD average fiscal deficit is close to 10% of GDP, while public debt is expected to reach 100% of GDP by 2011 (30 percentage points higher than before the onset of the crisis). Even if consolidation were sufficient to bring public budgets back to balance by 2017, debt-to-GDP ratios would still exceed pre-crisis levels in most countries.

As if this were not bad enough, OECD estimates suggest member states may have lost over 4% of their output potential as a result of the crisis; half of it because of higher unemployment.
But even in those countries that managed to contain job losses by widespread cuts in working hours, the short-term labour market outlook is not rosy. They face a serious risk of a "jobless recovery". Firms have ample margin to respond to the increase of demand by raising working hours before they start hiring new workers in large numbers again.

Thus, ensuring that high unemployment does not persist for too long is a key objective, he said.

Gurria says priorities should be: "First, support for labour demand needs to evolve from preserving jobs to jump-starting job creation. Second, effective re-employment services, combined with adequate safety nets, have a key role to play in promoting a quick reintegration of jobseekers into jobs, while fighting poverty. Third, policies to prevent a "lost youth generation" are a must."

By Padraig Yeates


SIPTU and Congress President Jack O'Connor and Congress General Secretary, David Begg, greet Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland Dr. Hikmat Ajjuri and Mr. Adnan Shabab from the General Delegation of Palestine at Dublin Castle on Friday (16th April).

Despite losing nine key speakers to the impact of the volcanic ash, the Congress conference on the Middle East went ahead in St Patrick's Hall, Dublin Castle on Friday (16th April) and several hundred union members heard from a wide variety of international speakers on how unions could best assist a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The aim of the conference was twofold: to build support for Congress policy on the Middle East and to learn from other trade union actions around the world; to strengthen relationships with the labour movements in the Middle East and beyond and to assist discussion about how union solidarity can contribute to a peaceful solution that respects both UN resolutions and human and trade union rights.

The Conference was chaired by Congress President, Jack O Connor.

In November 2007, a Congress delegation visited the region and met with representatives of all sides, including Israeli and Palestinian trade unions, the Israeli government and civil society activists. Members of the delegation entered the Gaza strip to meet with representatives of the elected Hamas authority. The delegation subsequently published a report of their findings and made key recommendations. The full report is available at this link:

In 2009, Congress adopted a motion at its Biennial Delegate Conference, which included support for calls from Palestinian civil society for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Last week's conference heard from Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin, Omar Barghouti, Palestinian National Committee for BDS; Avital Shapira-Shabirow, Director of International Department, Histadrut (the General Federation of Labour in Israel) along with speakers from the US and Canada.
A lively debate followed a speech by Avital Shapira during which she accused Congress of bias against Israel. She also claimed that the BDS campaign could damage the prospect of a negotiated solution to the conflict.
Several speakers challenged Avital Shapira and claimed that Histadrut had not only failed to condemn the attack on Gaza in early 2009 in which 1400 people, including 300 children, were killed by Israeli forces but had actively defended it.
Concluding the sometimes heated discussion, Jack O'Connor said that it was not sufficient for trade unionists and progressive people to ignore the plight of the Palestinian people just as they should never have ignored the Holocaust in the mid 20th Century.
Several speakers called for an examination by Congress of more effective means to progress the BDS campaign.
A full record of proceedings - including speeches and debates - will be posted on the Congress website ( in the coming days.
By Macdara Doyle, ICTU Communications Officer

The first anniversary of the death of Jack Jones [1913-2009], General Secretary of Britain's TGWU from 1969 to 1978, occurred 21st April. Christened James Larkin Jones by his Liverpool dockworker father, Jack was a lifelong friend of our own union and is pictured above outside Liberty Hall in 2005 with 1CTU General Secretary David Begg and SIPTU General President Jack O'Connor. Throughout his retirement Jack Jones continued to reflect on the qualities of good leadership that were required for effective union organisation, not least in periods of economic and political crisis.
Click here for a particularly thought provoking 1991 lecture by Jack Jones on the subject of such challenges ...
SupermacsProtest16.04The Restaurant Workers' Action Group, established by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), staged a protest on Friday, (16th April) at the flagship Supermacs restaurant in Galway. Supermacs is part of the Quick Service Food Alliance, an industry group mounting a legal challenge to the JLC (Joint Labour Committee) system which sets wages for the restaurant industry.

Click here to view the Protest


SIPTU is sponsoring the May Day festival in Athy which will take place on Saturday, 1st May in the Athy Community Arts Centre, Woodstock Street (The Methodist Church). The festival is the first May Day celebration in living memory in Athy and should prove to be both an entertaining and educational event.

The festival is a celebration of the rural origins of the Irish Trade Union movement.  The rapid growth of the Trade Union movement in Ireland in the late 19th century is usually linked to the growth in industrialisation and the spread of 'new unionism' from Britain. While the Irish trade union movement owes much to these phenomena, the origins in fact go back much further and the festival explores a lineage that links the modern movement with various land reformers and agitators such as the White-Boys and Ribbon Men of the early 19th century.

All events will take place in the Community Arts Centre. It is a multi-media event. There will be a display of Trade Union banners throughout the day along with some historical recordings. In the afternoon there will be a series of papers presented by local notaries and visiting academics, including papers on the famous local land labourers' strikes in 1923 and 1947.The festival will culminate in a performance by Will Kaufman of 'The Woody Guthrie Story', an evening of inspiring songs and tales from the Dust Bowl of Depression torn 1930s America.

All events will be free during the day; there will be a small fee of €5 for the evening performance of Will Kaufman. Tickets available from SIPTU, Tel No: 045 432318 (Office Hours Monday-Friday)

By Adrian Kane, SIPTU Organiser, Kildare/Leixlip

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May Day Flyer

SHIP Flyer


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