TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY says the rejection of the Croke Park 2 public pay deal means public sector workers no longer have any automatic protection against mandatory redundancies.
Kenny said workers had voted on the proposed pay deal, which would have cut €300 million from public pay this year, knowing that it would have guaranteed them protection against public redundancies.
He said the workers’ rejection of the deal meant there was now no such protection for workers.
“That was an inherent part of it,” Kenny told the Dáil, referring to the pay cuts. “But of course, if there’s no agreement, there’s no protection – and that’s the point.
In the negotiations between the Labour Relations Commission and the unions on Croke Park 2, employment was protected by those negotiations and protected under Croke Park 2.
It’s absolutely true to say that if you have no agreement, you don’t have that inherent protection. That’s fact.
Kenny’s dramatic comments, made in the Dáil this morning, suggest that the government now believes the original Croke Park agreement – which was due to run until June 2014, and which ruled out any mandatory redundancies – is now null and void.
The Taoiseach also defended the presentation of revised Budget figures which included the Croke Park 2 pay cuts, which were published even after public workers voted to reject the proposals for saving €300 million.
His comments came after Micheál Martin queried comments from public expenditure minister Brendan Howlin, who last night told the Dáil that if the government was a private sector employee, it would not be pulling ahead with mandatory job cuts.
Martin claimed the government was ready to proceed with unilateral pay cuts, and that laws cutting pay and pensions for public workers were being drafted and ready to go if LRC chairman Kieran Mulvey’s talks with union representatives did not lead to a second round of pay negotiations.
He said this was in spite of the government’s insistence that the rejected Croke Park 2 deals could only be ‘tweaked’ rather than facing a total overhaul.
The Taoiseach’s comments followed those of Pat Rabbitte, who this morning said the rejection of the Croke Park 2 agreement meant “theoretically” the government could pursue job cuts.
He added, however, “there’s no particular will on the part of government to remove that protection from public sector workers,” he told RTÉ.