Government delaying start of new public pay talks is 'only exacerbating the problem' - Head of INMO

SIPTU yesterday said its public sector members will be balloted unless new negotiations are announced

The head of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has warned the Government that delaying the start of public pay talks is only exacerbating the problem.

Several unions have called for fresh negotiations on public sector pay and pay restoration in recent weeks, despite the current Lansdowne Road Agreement having only come into force this summer.

Following a request from the Irish Congress of Trade Union (ICTU), the SIPTU executive agreed to give ministers another two weeks to set a timeline for talks.

The union had previously set a deadline of yesterday for the Government to commit to negotiations.

SIPTU officials are now asking various negotiating committees to prepare for balloting to begin on Thursday December 1st.

It said mandates will be given to its members unless the Government issues an invitation to talks to the Public Services Committee of Congress, saying talks should begin no later than February 1st.

The calls follow the deal reached between the Government and Garda associations, which members of the GRA and AGSI are currently being balloted on.

Ministers have insisted those recommendations - which were issued following talks at the WRC and Labour Court - are within the confines of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Liam Doran of the INMO says his members will not be treated differently to gardaí.

On today's Pat Kenny Show, he explained: "There's no way that we can accept that people who are outside of an agreement are [...] going to get €3,000+ next January.

"My members are expected to wait for €1,000 next September. So starting talks... the delay in doing that is just only exacerbating the problem."

He added: "My members have swallowed not once, not twice but three times in the last seven years things that no trade union member should have to swallow - pay cuts, levies, longer hours.

"They're tired, they're broken, they're demoralised. The Government walked into this problem with their eyes wide open. We have told them repeatedly you cannot treat people outside the agreement more favourably that those inside the agreement."

John King is a divisional organiser with SIPTU. 

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Mr King said: "I don't accept that our position has weakened at all."

He explained that the previous announcement indicated that the union's president would take the proposal to ballot members to its national executive.

"I think yesterday the national executive council did endorse that, and over the next number of weeks we will start preliminary consultation with our members in the public sector to begin that process," he observed.

He also observed that these calls are not just the result of the Garda deals.

"SIPTU made a call for faster restoration within the lifetime of the Lansdowne Road Agreement as far back as March or April of this year, when public sector workers along with everybody else were listening to politicians telling us that the crisis was over," he said.