Tuesday’s Child: The Public Service Pay Agreement

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It is hard to know where to begin a rant on this dreadful deal. I won’t and instead want to point to four external and macro consequences. Four consequences of the deal for all workers, including private sector workers, and for the public at large, especially the poorest part of it.

(The details of the deal itself can be viewed at siptu.ie and a critical response from Paddy Healy and the National Public Sector Alliance is at Indymedia).

1. The deal takes no account of the non-pay, non-industrial elements of the budget(s): the cuts in social welfare, community funding, hospital budgets, health services as they affect patients, etc., etc. Where is the union stand on these – without hyperbole, cruel – cuts and why has “trust” and “peace” returned while they remain in place?!

2. The core of the deal is the facilitation, through ‘transformation’ of a reduction in the number of public sector jobs. A reduction of 17,000 has been spoken of. If the loss is even half that the question remains: in the midst of mass and growing unemployement, with no prospect of the private sector providing net new jobs in the foreseeable future, should not every single public sector job be precious and defended tooth and nail? Rather than bartered – no, thrown – away?! This deal is going to directly increase unemployment. And besides, less public servants surely must mean further deterioration of public services.

3. Following from the last point on job numbers, and also from the stated tactical aim of the ICTU negotiators to reduce the overall public service pay bill, the deal is deflationary. That is, it is against another stated policy of the ICTU, that the response to the crisis should not be deflationary but stimulatory.

4. The cuts sanctified by the deal and the wider budget cuts amount to a transfer from public sector workers and the poor to the banks. The announcement of the deal on Bail Out Tuesday, on the same day as the announcement of the first NAMA figure of €8.5 billion and of the recapitalisation figure of €21.8 billion, was an unfortunate coincidence for its PR.

Photo of delegates voting on a motion at the CPSU conference in Galway (Friday 26th of March). Photograph: Joe OShaughnessy, courtesy of the Irish Times.

 

5 Responses

  1. William Wall

    April 1, 2010 1:50 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. The Union bosses have sold out or caved in – not sure how to read it. They grown comfortable on “Social Partnership”. They don’t want to have to cope with the anger of their members and the people for whom they supposedly speak – the unemployed, the sick, the elderly and the young. This is a sell-out. I hope each union rejects the deal resoundingly.

  2. Des Derwin

    April 1, 2010 3:29 pm

    It is not usual for to comment on one’s own piece . But these are unusual days. Most peculiar. Today is the 1st of April and I’m not entirely sure I’m not being taken in by the most elaborarte April Fool’s spoof I’ve ever encountered. Today, two days after 30th March, Bail-Out Tuesday, the ICTU has published a new document or pamphlet, dated April 2010, entitled, wait for it: ‘Shifting the Burden: Why the Government wants to load the cost of the collapse onto the less well off and why their plan will just make things worse’. It is beautifully designed and magnificently presented in digital format at:
    http://www.ictu.ie/publications/fulllist/shifting-the-burden/#issuuembed

    The Summary begins:
    “In the latter half of 2009, the Government formulated a plan to deal with the economic crisis. Key elements of that plan were unveiled on Budget Day in December.But there are parts of the plan they won’t reveal in public because, at its core, lies a determination to load the full cost of the collapse onto working people and the poor. Be they wage earners, pensioners or social welfare recipients, their pockets will be picked to finance the ‘recovery’.”

    Eh, hello? Would that part of the plan have been revealed in Croke Park on 30th March? And shouldn’t Congress be publishing an explanation entitled: ‘Shifting the Burden: Why the ICTU wants to load the cost of the collapse onto the less well off and why their plan will just make things worse’?!!!

    It’s Holy Thursday too. Enough already with the analogies!

    (I’m sure the document is full of terrific information and arguments and fair dues, but really, when people ignore their own propaganda!)

  3. William Wall

    April 1, 2010 4:09 pm

    I got that email too (the ICTU one). Haven’t read it yet, but I’m a bit baffled by the choreography. Or is that internal resistance? Time will tell.

  4. Bernadette

    April 5, 2010 7:41 pm

    Yes, it was bang correct to warn of the consequences of the Public Sector Pay Agreement deal for the private sector workers and the poor as well. The genuflection of the trade union leadership to the state employers and the ‘there-is-no-alternative’ mantra that they will give to the members augers very badly indeed. On all the key issues Des mentioned (cuts in social welfare, pensions, community developments and so on) the bureaucracy has caved in. If implemented in due time this will inevitably lead to a massive deterioration in the living standards of ordinary workers.

    And what’s more the worst is yet to come! That’s what we were told in Brian Lenihan’s speech last week. He said extra billions will be needed for the bail-out not only now, but in future years too. Bragging that cuts in the recent budget will be minor in comparison … springs to mind. The bottom line is that taxes will be higher, spending on social services will be slashed and all agencies that represent the most vulnerable will be effectively demolished.

    And to ensure this happens the Agreement provides for an Implementation Board composed of representatives from the State, the trade unions and a so-called “independent Chair” … no doubt a hand-picked Board with appropriate political connections … a nice pay-off for those who can be relied on to toe the line.

    Expressing our shock and disgust with these developments is understandable: but it is not enough. How do we intervene to challenge this scenario? Today many people young and old are angered. Students challenging globalisation, union militants and campaigners resisting this or that aspect of neoliberalism, the oppressed combating their oppression – need to be related to. Assembling a core of revolutionary militants who are clear about what they are fighting for – uniting the entire Left into one major obstacle to the onslaught is vital.

    Every fightback, no matter how much limited, will progress that agenda.