Wicklow HSE branch member Margaret Coughlan made the claim as the conference unanimously backed a range of motions committing the union to fighting pay cuts, restoring pay scales and opposing job losses in the sector.
Ms Coughlan made reference to the recently-published, IMPACT-commissioned Harvey Report, which projected the scale of the job losses. She said the 5,000 figure may even be “cautious and conservative”.
Philip O’Connor, from the Boards and Voluntary Agencies branch, said if workers in the community and voluntary sector could get a deal like the Croke Park deal, they would be very happy, as it would mean such luxuries as an end to compulsory redundancies and an assurance on their pensions.
Meanwhile, the union’s Special Education Needs Officers branch has slammed the Government for deferring the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (EPSEN).
“The EPSEN Act was intended to ensure that children with special educational needs could leave school with the skills necessary to participate, to the level of their capacity, in an inclusive way in the social and economic activities of society, and to live independent and fulfilled lives,” said special education needs officer Ruth McKernan.
Separately, the union heard criticism of the Government for failing to put in place legislation protecting workers from victimisation.
As part of the Towards 2016 transitional social partnership agreement, the Government said it would enact legislation in June 2009 which would restore mechanisms contained in the 2004 Industrial Relations Act, which were rendered toothless by a Supreme Court ruling in favour of Ryanair. That included legislation prohibiting victimisation and on the rights of workers to trade union representation.
“It is now May 2010 and we are in a position where Government have admitted that there is no work underway to enact these vital pieces of legislation — especially at a time when the trade union movement is more relevant than ever,” said Evan Cullen of the union’s IALPA aviation branch.