INTO members urged to vote No to rotten pay deal

Date:

 

The text of a leaflet distributed among INTO members. While it's written specifically for INTO members, the arguments in it are obviously applicable across all unions.

‘Towards 2016 – Transitional Phase’
Reasons to Vote No

1. The pay increases in this deal will not keep pace with inflation. This means in effect that we are being offered a pay CUT.
(a)Between now and September 1st 2009 we get no pay increase. This is at a time when electricity prices have just gone up by 17.5% and food prices are officially 6.4% higher than this time last year.
(b) We are then offered an increase of 3.5% on 1st September ’09 and a further 2.5% on 1st June 2010. To portray this as a 6% increase over 21 months as government and trade union leaders have done is inaccurate. The 2.5% comes at the end of the 21 month period so in reality what we are offered is 3.5% over 21 months, and we can expect the 2.5% to extend on into the next phase of the deal – effectively meaning another pay pause at its conclusion.
(c) The budget has now put a 1% levy on our income so even the minimal effects of this ‘increase’ are being wiped out before we even get them.

2. The tying of the principals’ and deputy principals’ Benchmarking award to the acceptance of this deal is a sleight of hand by the government. The Benchmarking award relates to a long-standing INTO claim for parity with principals at second-level. In itself the Benchmarking award fell short of our claim and failed to deliver a shortening of the pay scale, for example. The Benchmarking award should be paid in its own right as part of the last deal and its receipt should not be tied to the acceptance of this deal.

3. The deal does nothing to address the issue of low pay. What an insult to the low-paid – at a time of recession when the low-paid will suffer most - to offer a pathetic additional 0.5%, and even that not until 1st June 2010. Compare this to the way in which executive pay is dealt with. The deal states that “employer bodies will, as a matter of policy, encourage their members that pay moderation is also observed in respect of executive pay.” Consider the fact that the chief executives at the top three public banks were paid a combined €8.3million in the most recent financial year for which they posted results. Consider also the fact that the annual profits of the four publicly-quoted Irish banks amount to almost €10billion. And then consider the fact that this pay deal and the budget tells us that now we must all ‘take some of the pain’. Continuing in the tradition of previous deals, it is only the pay of workers that is restricted by this deal. The fatcats at the tops of the banks and other large companies will be ‘encouraged’ to exercise ‘moderation’. And now even the low-paid will be forced to pay the new 1% levy, forcing even more people into the poverty trap

4. Section 7 of this deal is entitled ‘Employment Rights and Compliance’. Before the deal has even been voted on, however, the employers’ side has shown just how much concern it has for ‘Employment Rights’. The announcement by Aer Lingus management that it intends to effectively ‘do an Irish Ferries’ on the workforce by outsourcing jobs, implementing a pay freeze and attacking working conditions shows that their commitment to ‘Employment Rights’ isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. This action by Aer Lingus management shows yet again that the only side which is bound by the constraints of these ‘social partnership’ deals is the trade union side. Employers continue to ride roughshod over workers’ rights as they choose.

5. At best it can be said that the references by the government side to employment rights and the right to trade union representation in this deal are vague - an Employment Agency Regulation Bill is to be published by the end of 2008 but there’s no commitment as to when legislation will actually be passed; there will be a review of the right to trade union representation by March ’09 but again no commitment to actually do anything about it. These are the issues which the trade union side said would be make or break for them but the level of commitment they have got included on any of them is pathetic. Of course the reality is that the right to trade union representation and the protection of employment rights can only be guaranteed if we have a strong and effective trade union movement – one which will force anti-union employers to offer recognition and one which will stand up to attacks on workers’ rights. If there’s one thing that INTO members should know by now as a result of the government’s broken promises on class size it’s that government promises are more often honoured by being broken than by being implemented!

6. As with previous social partnership deals, this deal includes both a no-strike clause and a commitment that there will be no cost increasing claims. At a time of ever-darkening economic forecasts, this is extremely dangerous. We’re basically saying that no matter how much the cost of living goes up or how much our working standards come under attack we won’t advance any ‘cost-increasing’ claims. But of course the same won’t hold true of interest rates or of prices of oil, food, rent, mortgages etc. The cost of them can increase but we can’t look for compensation. And of course we’re expected to ‘co-operate with ongoing change’!

7. Social partnership deals have never been good for workers or the unemployed. In the initial social partnership deals over 20 years ago we were asked to moderate our wage demands in the interests of economic regeneration. Unfortunately that economic regeneration favoured greatly the better off in society and did nothing to tackle chronic poverty levels. Then throughout the years of the Celtic Tiger we were told that if we continued to moderate our wage demands there would be investment in public services. Well those of us who work in overcrowded classrooms, in rotting prefabs and in an education system which is in the dark ages in terms of Information Technology don’t need reminding that that investment never came in anything like large enough amounts. Neither does anyone who either works in or has been unfortunate enough to have to use our public health system in recent years.

8. It’s clearer than ever in recent weeks just who social partnership is designed to protect. Look how quickly the government moved to use our taxpayers’ money to protect the interests of wealthy bankers and property developers when they feared that they might be in trouble. Compare that to the way in which young workers have been crucified by huge mortgages to fund the massive profits being made by these same developers. And compare it also to the distinct lack of will from government to use the boom years to invest in public services or to tackle institutionalised poverty.

9. As the recession deepens in months to come, we now more than ever need a strong trade union movement capable of standing up for our rights. Voting against this partnership deal won’t in itself bring this about. But it would be a first step in us delivering a message to government that we can’t be pushed around and taken for fools.
 

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