Schools and hospitals are expected to be worst hit as trade union chiefs escalate a fight to reverse pay cuts with a series of work stoppages.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has pledged to ratchet up industrial action in the civil and public service through “tactical strikes”.
Primary schools could close for half or full days on a rolling or regional basis, while nurses will threaten to walk off wards.
Peter McLoone, head of the Impact trade union and chairman of the Congress public services committee, said stoppages would vary across each sector and would be decided in the coming weeks.
“We have always said that escalation of the industrial action was inevitable unless there was progress towards a settlement,” he said.
“There has been no progress and the action is now going to escalate to include the withdrawal of labour.”
Individual unions will decide how to increase action on top of work-to-rules, which have been in force since January 25 in an attempt to hit the Government without causing massive disruption to the public.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said it is considering rolling work stoppages and hopes to meet representatives of other health workers on Thursday to finalise plans.
Sheila Nunan, of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), revealed schools could suffer half-day or full-day closures.
She said unions had always said protests would be escalated unless there was a credible response from government.
The announcement of increased industrial unrest comes after the 26-County Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan warned that a further three billion euro worth of taxes and cuts to the annual state budget is likely. The funds will be used to fund the increasingly expensive bailout of Irish banks and their creditors, most pressingly the fraudulent and criminal Anglo-Irish Bank.
It has also emerged in recent week that accomodation for over a million citizens is lying empty across the 26 County state following untrammeled and corrupt property development over the past decade.
Meanwhile, an increase in retirement age over the coming decades was confirmed late last week at the launch of the National Pensions Framework.
In 2014, the State pension age will be increased by one year to 66. In 2021, the State pension age will be set at 67 and in 2028 it will be set at 68.
Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin confirmed the coalition government had decided to increase the pension age in three stages: “If you are aged between 50 and 55 you will not retire until you are 67. If you’re aged 49 or under, you’ll be working until you’re 68.
“This reform will.. help us to sustain the pension system for future generations,” she said.
GREEN ISLE DISPUTE SETTLED
A strike at a frozen food factory in County Kildare has been called off after workers reached a settlement with their employers.
Three workers who went on hunger strike after a dispute at the Green Isle Foods factory in Naas, County Kildare, agreed to cease their fasts after compensation was agreed for three workers who were sacked last summer.
Jim Wyse, shop steward at the plant, had been surviving on water and salt for 15 days and he was joined by former Offaly footballer John Guinan last week.
On Wednesday, John Recto from the Philippines, who was one of the men sacked, also joined the hunger strike. After living in Ireland for eight years, a recent attempt to renew his work visa saw him called to a Garda station where his and his wife’s immigration cards were confiscated.
The three men voted late last week along with other Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU), workers to accept an agreement brokered through independent mediators.