Following a meeting of the union’s national executive committee, it issued a statement in which it said it believed “the best strategy for these extraordinary times is to keep the centralised collective agreement in place for the period envisaged”.
“Voting no will not make the problem go away. The Croke Park Agreement will collapse and we will still be faced with the cuts agenda without the protections it provides,” it said.
“Ultimately, the real danger is that public service workers could end up with the worst of both worlds, ie, legislated pay cuts on one hand and no agreement on the other. Then workers would suffer the cuts but they would have no protection against compulsory redundancy, redeployment or outsourcing.”
The decision by Siptu’s committee is highly significant because, with 63,000 public sector members, the union has one of the highest share of voting rights in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions overall ballot on Croke Park II next month.
The Siptu executive position also means that, along with Impact — which has more than 60,000 public sector members — the two largest public service unions have now given their backing to the extension to the first Croke Park agreement.
However, there is no doubt that acceptance of the terms recommended by the Labour Relations Commission is still far from guaranteed.
Seven ICTU-affiliated unions — Unite; the Civil, Public, and Services Union; the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation; the Irish Medical Organisation; the Irish Federation of University Teachers; the Teachers’ Union of Ireland; and the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants — have all recommended their members reject the proposals. However, when their memberships are added together the total is still much less than the combined totals in Impact and Siptu. The Public Service Executive Union has also urged its members to vote in favour of the recommendations.
Also yesterday, the Prison Officers’ Association recommended that its 3,300 members vote in favour of the deal.