Civil service staff to campaign for referendum no vote

Lower paid civil service workers have decided to campaign for a no vote in next month’s referendum on the EU fiscal treaty.

At the CPSU annual conference in Cork yesterday, delegates voted almost unanimously to oppose the treaty, joining Unite, Mandate and the TEEU in urging its members to reject it. General secretary Eoin Ronayne said the outcome of the vote reflected the level of pay cuts members have had to endure.

Earlier, he warned that the CPSU will resist any move by the Government to reduce allowances or to freeze or withhold pay increments.

In his address at the opening day of the conference, Mr Ronayne said the pay of lower paid civil servants had been cut by 14% and they could not cope with any further reductions in wages.

“Any move to reduce allowances for existing staff will inevitably lead to confrontation,” he said.

“Our members have already endured a 14% attack on pay. They cannot cope with any further cuts in wages they take home and any move to impose further cuts will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

Mr Ronayne also said any plans to freeze or withhold pay increments for staff would be resisted, pointing out that increments were not bonuses or productivity payments but “legitimate service based increases that recognise the skill and experience of staff as they move from a lower starting salary to the full value rate for the job”.

The CPSU general secretary also hit out at plans by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to change the pay arrangements of CPSU members so that they are paid monthly. Most members are currently paid on a weekly basis.

Mr Ronayne said there were no significant cost savings to be had by the move and that the plan had struck “fear and panic” into many of its members. “It’s time for a reality check. Try living for four weeks without pay and then go for four weeks without pay,” he said.

The union also vowed to resist any unnecessary redeployment of staff. The CPSU general secretary cited the example of Department of Agriculture staff in Donegal being moved 45km to Buncrana. Mr Ronayne said the additional fuel costs to make this journey could amount to €450 to €500 a week was an unfair burden on lower paid civil servants.

The members also voted in favour of a proposal to negotiate for the provision of a facility for all staff to finish once a week at 3.30pm in view of bank time having been abolished.

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