Defeating Croke Park 2 – Every Vote Counts


An analysis of the voting results on the first Croke Park Agreement shows that the votes of a few hundred union members in a couple of unions could decide the fate of the ‘Croke Park Extension’ deal currently being voted on by union members. Because of the bizarre - and rather anti-democratic - system of voting at the public services committee of the ICTU, a small margin in favour or against the deal in any particular union swings all the votes of that union either for or against. 

157,200 union members voted on Croke Park 1 back in 2010 with an aggregate of 83,557 (53%) voting for and 73,643 (47%) saying no.  However when the vote was taken at the Public Services Committee, a 66% vote in favour was recorded.

SIPTU and IMPACT, the two biggest unions, are primarily responsible for this distortion in the figures.  23,370 SIPTU members voted for and 12,583 against, for example, but all of SIPTU’s 719 votes were then cast in favour at the Public Services Committee.

Relative strengths

The SIPTU and IMPACT ‘blocks’ at Public Services Committee made up 45% of the total in 2010.  This is likely to have changed slightly since then.  Because of the recruitment embargo and job losses in the public sector, the relative strength of these two unions will have shrunk slightly.  Some other unions, such as the INTO, have not suffered the same loss in membership over the past couple of years, as teachers who retired have been replaced.

However, based on the figures from 2010 the figures are currently breaking down as follows:-

Total no. of votes at Public Services Committee 2895

No. of votes needed to defeat the deal 1448

Unions recommending against – INMO (390), ASTI (183), TUI (158), CPSU (128), IFUT (20), AHCPS (32), UNITE (60), IMO (68) = 1039

Unions who have not made a recommendation (or whose recommendation I can’t find by looking at their website) - INTO (314), TEEU (10), POA (34), VOA (3), UCATT (30), OPATSI (3), BATU (5) = 399

Unions recommending for – SIPTU (719), IMPACT (606), MLSA (19), PSEU (113) = 1457

What all this means is that the votes of two unions in particular, the INTO and PSEU, are key to the defeat of the deal.  Presuming that the members of those unions who have recommended a no vote go with the recommendation, a No vote in INTO and PSEU would be enough to provide a majority of votes against.

Indications currently are that the vote is going to be close in both those unions.  In the INTO, speakers at information meetings have been overwhelmingly opposed to the deal.  But, far from being neutral, much of the comment from the union leadership has been clearly in favour of accepting what they refer to as the ‘best deal available through negotiations’.

It is likely that the verdict in the INTO could come down to a couple of hundred votes either way – so clearly every vote counts.

Break the Constraints

The TUI – having delivered an 80% No vote - has already made it clear that it has no intention of being bound by a majority ICTU ‘yes’ vote.  TUI president Gerard Craughwell said “The TUI position is that it is not for the Public Services Committee to determine working conditions for members of unions who have rejected the proposals.”

This is a position that every single ‘No’ union should take.  It’s clear that there is going to be a very close vote in all unions.  Those who are opposed should make it clear that they are ready and willing to leave the constraints of Congress if that is what is necessary in order to lead a fight to defend the wages and working conditions of members.

The emergence of a campaigning block of unions would give heart to all workers – in every union – and to campaigners against the property tax and other aspects of austerity. 

If we can deliver a majority No vote within ICTU, the involvement of union members in pushing for a fighting strategy will still be vital as the leadership of ICTU and of the majority of its constituent unions will do everything they can to avoid leading their members in a real fight.

Either which way – the defeat of the deal and of the government strategy is within reach.  Over the next couple of weeks every vote counts.  Vote against the deal in your own union, and organise and convince your work and union colleagues to do so as well.

Words: Gregor Kerr Chair District 14 INTO (personal capacity)

Poll : Should unions who are opposed to Croke Park leave ICTU in order to lead a campaign against threatened paycuts?