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.
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.
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