Trump victory could affect Irish public sector pay talks

Former Taoiseach warns potential fall in trade could hurt Ireland's economy - and prevent public pay increases

Trump victory could affect Irish public sector pay talks

President-elect Donald Trump speaksin New York. Nov. 9, 2016. Image: Evan Vucci AP/Press Association Images

The election of Donald Trump to the White House could see “all public sector pay talks put on hold” according to economists.

Schools around the country have reopened today after the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) agreed to suspend their industrial action ahead of pay talks at the Teachers' Conciliation Council (TCC).

Last night, the ASTI confirmed it had accepted an invitation from TCC chair Ann Perry to “enter talks to explore possibilities to end the current industrial relations disputes.”

Secondary teachers will agree to undertake supervision and substitution duties for the duration of the talks - which are expected to continue till the end of the month.

However speaking to Breakfast Business on Newstalk, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) managing partner Fergal O’Rourke said he believes Trump’s victory will mean pay claims from public sector unions could have to be put on hold.

Mr O’Rourke said Ireland tends to be “disproportionately impacted by changes in the US economy” and warned the level of uncertainty now facing global markets will affect any potential pay deal for the public sector.

He said the result is “not the end of the world” but warned Ireland’s tax advantage will be affected - with a possible slowing down of US investment into the country.

He said Trump’s victory is set to bring, “a degree of uncertainty, like we saw in the immediate months following Brexit.”

Former Taoiseach, John Bruton said Trump's victory has effectively killed the controversial TTIP international trade deal and warned that any fall in trade will hurt Ireland's economy - and prevent public pay increases.

Mr Bruton said he is not hopeful that public servants will now be able to get all of the pay increases they are looking for:

The Department of Education will meet with Ms Perry today to “discuss matters of mutual concern relating to the ASTI’s industrial action that fall within the remit of the TCC.”

Minister for Education, Richard Bruton welcomed the new opportunity for talks and the ASTI decision to suspend their industrial action.

ASTI General Secretary Kieran Christie said the suspension shows the union’s “willingness to be constructive” in the dispute.

“The suspension of the industrial action has to be seen as a constructive move on our part,” he said.

“For our part we would expect reciprocation and that the talks would bear fruit and dividends on behalf of our members.”

Union vice president, Ger Curtin said the TCC negotiations will “explore if there is some possibility” of further talks to end the dispute.

The General Secretary of Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI), Michael Moriarty, welcomed the decision to suspend the industrial action.

“It is a relief that school life for students, which should always be our first consideration, can return to normal,” he said.

“Talking is always better than walking, and we exhort both sides to take this as a serious opportunity to find an acceptable compromise to ensure that the school year remains uninterrupted.”

Yesterday evening, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation announced it will ballot members on the possibility of industrial action in response to chronic persistent hospital overcrowding and excessive unpaid working hours. 

Should members vote in favour, the campaign of industrial action will begin with a “work to rule, which will be followed by a series of one day work stoppages.”

In a statement, the INMO Executive Council said, “the health, safety and welfare of staff and patients is - on a daily basis - compromised.”

INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said "certain sections of Irish society" will always find an excuse to "modify" public sector demands:

He said the action aims to encourage government and management to introduce special initiatives to “attract and retain the required number of nurses and midwives to staff our service safely and expand it to meet ever increasing demand.”

He said the union will “in conjunction with our public service union colleagues” campaign for “an acceleration in the restoration of pay and other conditions of employment which were cut in recent years.”