Section Committee comments on the ‘Haddington Road’ result

Yet more pay cuts and extra work demands will hit DCU staff at the end of July, after SIPTU’s acceptance of the Haddington Road  proposals, rejected by the majority at the University. Here, the DCU Section Committee sets out its position on the outcome of the union’s ballot.

The arguments presented to us were in ultimatum terms – either you vote Yes or the legislation will take it from you anyway  – or if you vote No, all out strike is the only alternative.

There was no representation of the No vote in the union literature. The full resources of the union were thrown behind a position that did not reflect the views of many in the union, including the DCU Section Committee.

The turn out was low – around 26,000 out of the  60,000 public sector workers in SIPTU. In DCU, the union’s cancellation of a ballot, we believe, added to that low turnout.  This means that effectively more than half of public sector workers in SIPTU did not vote, either because they were weary of ballots, or because they believed that a no vote would only lead to us being asked to vote again.

DCU had a small majority against the deal; overall in the education sector there was a small majority in favour.

At the end of the month of July, staff earning over €65,000 will see further cuts in their salaries. Around that time, new working rosters, with extra working hours for administrative and secretarial staff will start to be implemented and will cause real difficulties for many of these staff.

Extra hours for lecturers will be brought in, in a situation in which already the workload framework is in negotiation with the union and members are not cooperating with it in the form that it has been introduced.

All of this against  a background when extra taxes and more pressure on mortgage payers will be piling up. Recent figures from the Central Bank have shown that nearly 25% of mortgage holders are having difficulty servicing their mortgage; this undoubtedly includes many members of SIPTU here in DCU and in the wider public sector.

SIPTU comments after the vote
Immediately following the announcement of the ballot result, SIPTU Vice-President Patricia King issued a statement which demonstrated a clear disconnect with ordinary union members:

“We welcome the result of this ballot which followed a period of consultation and discussions among our members in the public service. We now hope that we can move on to implementing the reform process in order to improve the services for those who depend on them while protecting the jobs, terms and conditions of those who provide them.”

The DCU Section Committee believes that it is inappropriate to issue such statements.

The Section Committee notes the swiftness with which the statement was issued, and contrasts it with the complete silence from SIPTU as the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act was being pushed through the Dáil while the ‘Haddington Road’ ballot was in progress.

Members of DCU’s Section Committee tried to insist that SIPTU make clear its opposition to this legislation; SIPTU, and in particular the General President, chose to ignore this.

Consequently, this draconian piece of legislation, and the well-publicised threats contained in it, had a crucial influence on the outcome of the ballot. Moreover, it has been introduced with not even rhetorical opposition from SIPTU.

The concessions to non-academic staff in the agreement, for instance the introduction of ‘personal to holder’ guarantees to administrative and library staff, will, without a doubt, result in the diminution of terms and conditions over the coming years. In particular, new entrants to the public service will be seriously affected by the terms of this agreement.

The Section Committee would point out, also, that guarantees to restore pay are meaningless where the same guarantees to low paid staff, made in the initial ‘Croke Park I’ agreement, have not been implemented.

Finally, there will be tough times ahead. We, as the Section Committee shall seek, as we always have done, to represent you as best as we can. We believe that the current industrial relations climate in the public sector, aggravated by the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement, will continue to give further powers to managers and allow even more work for less money.

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