The passing of the Croke Park Agreement represents an important setback for public sector workers and the working class as a whole. If this deal is implemented unhindered then 20,000 public sector jobs will be lost, working conditions will be decimated and the quality of public services from health to education etc will be driven further into the ground.
SIPTU, IMPACT and INTO leaders dishonestly argued that there way no alternative to Croke Park and that if the members voted no they would have to embark on a campaign of strikes that was doomed to failure. Even now Croke Park could be defeated if we had a trade union leadership that was prepared to organise a united campaign of industrial action by the 300,000 plus public sector workers. The sad truth is that the majority of union leaders support Croke Park because they support the government’s agenda of public sector counter-reform.
The Public Service Implementation Body has been set up and is already discussing the implentation of the deal. Four union leaders, Shay Cody (IMPACT), Sheila Nunan (INTO), Patricia King (SIPTU) and Tom Geraghty (PSEU) will be doing the government’s dirty work. They will be involved in directly deciding which parts of the public service are to be attacked, who is to lose their jobs. The body will also have the remit of imposing a downgrading of the terms and conditions of all public servants! This committee, which also has three government appointees on it, is also empowered with “resolving” all industrial disputes that arise from this process – they are the enforcers of a no strike agreement.
The majority of ICTU leaders have shown once again they are rotten and not fit to hold their posts. It is no wonder that faced with a choice of accepting the deal in the hope that there will be no more pay cuts or levies or rejecting it and hoping that Jack O’Connor, Sheila Nunan or Shay Cody were going to get you a better deal wasn’t an attractive option for many workers. Most trade union members have little or no confidence in their union leaders.
Those who are at the head of the so-called “No” unions didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory. The Socialist Party argued for an alliance of “No” unions to fight a co-ordinated public campaign for a No vote based on the idea that the alternative was a campaign of national public sector strikes to defeat the government’s agenda.
Even after the passing of the deal by ICTU’s Public Sector Committee, the “No unions” could have formed an alliance to discuss how to stop the implementation of the agreement. Instead the leaderships of the INMO, TEEU, POA and UNITE have all ignored the democratic vote of their members and signed up to the deal.
This leaves the teachers in the ASTI, TUI and IFUT and the civil servants in the CPSU in a difficult situation. The Socialist Party supports the continued rejection of the Croke Park Deal by these unions. Nothing has changed – this is the same rotten deal that you rejected in your democratic ballots. These unions should refuse to sign up to the agreement and not co-operate with its implemetation. Doing so will most likely lead to a confrontation with management and the government and will require resolute industrial action to defend any members who are disciplined or victimised.
The implementation of the agreement will result in confrontations across the public sector. The remaining “No unions” can give a lead and credence to the idea that the government’s agenda can still be fought by public sector workers no matter what union they are a member of, or what sector they work in.
For left trade union activists the only response to the passing of the deal is to get straight back to the task of building an oppostion to the pro-social partnership trade union leaders. The Socialist Party is actively engaged in building opposition broad left activist groups within unions around the need for fighting democratic trade unions. If you are a public sector worker who is angered by the sell-out of the union leaders and you want to know what you can do to change the unions then get in touch with us today.
The passing of this deal does not get the government of the hook. The repercussions of the deal will create conflict and combined with the impact of the continuing economic crisis and the €3 billion cuts due in December’s Budget, are a recipe not for industrial peace but for major conflict between working class and the government.