Government and unions meet to discuss plan for talks

THE Government will meet with trade union representatives this evening to discuss a resumption of talks on a new economic recovery plan.

The social partners have not met on a plan since the start of the summer when discussions broke down without agreement and in acrimonious circumstances.

Unions remain convinced that the Government intends to put the burden of economic recovery on the shoulders of working people and those in receipt of welfare benefit.

They have signalled they will not re-enter substantive talks unless there are clear indications from the Government that it has moved from that position and will give full consideration to the unions’ 10-point plan for resuscitating the economy.

It is also likely unions will insist that in order for the process to get underway, that the Government will have to remove the threat of pay cuts across the public service.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions delegation going to Government Buildings this evening is understood to small, only including ICTU general secretary David Begg and SIPTU president Jack O’Connor.

They will report the outcome of this evening’s discussions back to trade union leaders at the ICTU executive meeting in Dublin tomorrow morning.

Following that meeting, ICTU will launch its public campaign of opposition to Government inaction on the jobs crisis.

That campaign is expected will formally begin with an afternoon of national protest in at least six locations across the country on November 6.

Meanwhile, the finance union IBOA has voted almost unanimously in favour of a resumption of talks on pay and pensions with the management of Ulster Bank.

Earlier this month, the bank ended talks with independent mediator Kieran Mulvey on a range of cost saving measures. The union claims Ulster Bank management is now pressurising staff to accept inferior contracts or it will withhold up to 10% of their salary.

“To make matters worse, the bank is pressuring staff to make a decision on these very difficult and complex issues about their future pension arrangements as well as their terms and conditions of employment and all within a very tight timeframe,” said IBOA general secretary Larry Broderick.

He said the union believes it is still possible to resolve the dispute through direct negotiation.

“Kieran Mulvey, has indicated his willingness to continue his mediation effort. IBOA has indicated its willingness to continue with the mediation process. But the bank has so far refused to return to the negotiating table – with the result that both staff and customers are being subjected to unnecessary worry and distress.

“Whether through negotiation or other methods, IBOA is determined to ensure that our members are afforded every opportunity to consider the full implications of the bank’s proposals and are not rushed into hasty decisions which they will soon regret.”

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