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Nurses warn of industrial action if government legislates for pay cuts

The Psychiatric Nurses Association has called on other public sector unions to threaten a ballot on industrial action if the government legislates to cut pay.

Des Kavanagh at a previous PNA protest in Dublin
Des Kavanagh at a previous PNA protest in Dublin
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE PSYCHIATRIC NURSES Association has warned that it will ballot for industrial action if the government legislates for pay cuts in the public sector in the wake of the collapse of Croke Park II.

Following a special session of its annual delegate conference in Galway this afternoon, the PNA also called on other public service unions “to match the threatening rhetoric of Government ministers to legislate for pay cuts by balloting for industrial action”.

PNA General Secretary Des Kavanagh said of the mood among members: “[It] can be summed up as – ‘We don’t want a strike, we can’t afford a strike but we are now at the point where we cannot afford NOT to go on strike if these cuts are implemented by legislation’.”

The government has not yet indicated how it intends to raise €300 million through public sector pay cuts in the wake of the proposed deal with unions – Croke Park II – being rejected by the majority of public sector workers earlier this week.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin has previously indicated that the government could legislate for an across the board 7 per cent pay cut in the public sector in order to achieve the savings which he has said are already budgeted for this year.

The PNA is part of an alliance of public sector workers – The Frontline Alliance – which has claimed it was excluded from talks at the Labour Relations Commission in February at which a deal on public sector pay was thrashed out.

Some unions in the alliance walked out of the talks before an agreement was reached by the government and the main unions in the country, most of whom ended up rejecting the deal in a ballot of members.

With the government now facing a rethink of how to reach overall savings of €1 billion by 2015, Kavanagh said the “absence of key representatives of front line workers” led to the rejection of the deal by trade union members.

He added: “Any  future talks on a successor to  Croke Park agreement  must embrace all trade unions and representative bodies, and must not just be a tweaking of this failed process but a complete review of all options to achieve the savings targeted by Government.”

Earlier: Government ‘absolutely united’ behind Howlin in bid to save €300m: Kenny

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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