Union leader warns of public sector strikes

Union leader warns of public sector strikes

All-out strike action that would bring Ireland’s public services to its knees can not be ruled out in the coming days, a senior union leader warned today.

Ahead of an expected announcement during the week by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Impact leader Peter McLoone signalled industrial action was imminent.

Public sector workers remain outraged over pay cuts unleashed in last week’s Budget and have ruled out any chance of renewed talks with the Government.

“I think we are dealing with a potentially explosive situation,” said Mr McLoone.

Under Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s ’slash and burn’ Budget, lowest-paid public and civil servants – on salaries up to €30,000 – will suffer a 5% drop.

Those on higher salaries will take reductions between 5% and 15%, for the top-earning elite.

Along with pension levies brought in earlier this year, the drop means 55,000 workers who took home less than €30,000 a year have now taken a €3,500 pay cut, said Mr McLoone.

A quarter of a million people in the public services who earned up to €60,000 a year ago will have taken a 15% enforced pay cut, he added.

The union leader ruled out suggestions by Mr Lenihan last week that reforms already hammered out before talks collapsed could go ahead.

“The ambitions for the reform that I was talking about for the last six months now lie in tatters,” he told RTE radio.

“We don’t have the conditions any longer in which I have a workforce who will be up for the engagement in transformation.

“There’s no basis in which we will be able to go back into discussions in the short term.

“Effectively trust has broken down.”

The Impact chief and head of Ictu’s public services committee said details of a “sustained response” would be unveiled in the coming days.

“That will involve industrial action in various shapes or forms,” he warned.

“I’m not ruling out the possibility of all-out strikes because the reaction that we are getting is very, very strong.”

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