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SIPTU threatens to ballot all 60,000 members unless Government sits down for pay talks

SIPTU said the Government has one week to issue an invitation for talks or else their members will be balloted.

Image: /Photocall Ireland

SIPTU GENERAL PRESIDENT Jack O’Connor has said this afternoon that the union will ballot its 60,000 members for industrial action unless pay talks begin.

Speaking at a union conference this afternoon, O’Connor said the Government negotiate with unions and open a dialogue on pay and working conditions.

He said: “We utterly reject the assertion that there is no money and that it is a choice between pay increases and services for the public.  This is an absolutely false dichotomy.  The fact of the matter is that the Government made choices in the budget.”

O’Connor cited special VAT concessions given to the hospitality sector valued at €600 million a year in a bid to highlight the money the Government has at its disposal.

Pay talks

He added:”I am today calling on the Government to issue an immediate invitation to the Public Services Committee of ICTU for the opening of talks which should commence not later than the 1 February 2017.

Irish Trade Union protest SIPTU's Jack O'Connor Source: PA Archive/PA Images

“Moreover, if they do not do so before this day week, our National Executive Council will authorise any negotiating group of members, who are covered by the Lansdowne Road Agreement, and who wish to do so, to commence balloting for industrial action and/or strike action in pursuit of their demands.”

O’Connor said he values every union’s right to sit down for pay talks but said it can be problematic when one union decides to go on a “solo run”.

He added: “We fully respect the right of every trade union to take such action as it deems necessary, in the interests of its members, and especially to address the injustice of lower entry rates.

However, the problem is that once and group embarks on a solo run, everyone else will have to follow.

“This is because it could lead to a situation that any resources that are available will be absorbed in settling these individual disputes and there will be nothing left for anyone else.  Accordingly, it is now imperative that the Government sets an early date for the commencement of talks to renegotiate the Lansdowne Road Agreement.”

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