Republican News · Thursday 23 March 2000

[An Phoblacht]

PPF vote to be carried

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) is to hold a special delegate conference today where it is widely expected that the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF) will be endorsed by a majority of delegates.

The ballots from two of the state's three largest unions were in favour of accepting the PPF.

Earlier this week, SIPTU voted by 69% to 31% in favour, and IMPACT members voted by 81% to 19% in favour. Yesterday, MANDATE members rejected the agreement. This followed a 94% vote against the PPF by the ATGWU on Monday.

Even though the results of ballots in teaching unions and the Civil and Public Service Union (CPSU) have yet to come, as An Phoblacht goes to print it seems that the acceptance camp has enough of the 370 delegates to win an overall majority.

70% of Irish Nurses Organisations (INO) members also voted in favour. The Technical Engineering and Electrical Union's (TEEU) 28,000 members voted against. Other unions in support of the agreement were the Public Service Executive Union and the Irish Bank Officials Association.

However, there is a clear division between low paid workers and other grades in the trade union movement. Low paid workers, the most disadvantaged group within the workforce, are being forced into accepting a wage agreement that will benefit higher paid workers proportionately more. Motions to withdraw from the ICTU have been tabled for the CPSU's May conference.

SIPTU leaders were still talking up the agreement this week, despite more data showing inflation rates rising in the 26 Counties. SIPTU President Des Geraghty called on the Dublin government to take action to tackle land speculation and inflation. But if the trade union leadership were really that interested in these issues, why did they not make them part of the PPF? SIPTU are only highlighting their own negotiating failures. Maybe the ATGWU's regional secretary, Michael O'Reilly, was right. Maybe the employer-union negotiations at Government Buildings really were a ``teddy bear's picnic''.

Dublin Bus talks end

National Bus and Rail Workers Union (NBRU) members at Dublin Bus are to return to industrial action tomorrow with a two-day strike. Dublin Bus have been unwilling to act on the NBRU's 20% wage claim, saying that they don't have the money.

The NBRU have consistently made the point that Dublin Bus receives the lowest state subsidy of any other European city. They believe that they are subsidising a low state grant through their low wages.

``Somebody else must pay that money,'' said NBRU general secretary Peter Bunting, meaning that once again in this seven-month dispute the ball is back in the court of Public Enterprise minister Mary O'Rourke.

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