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Is the Croke Park Deal a Carefully-laid Trap?


onlyasking

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In this state, administrative processes generally take a long time to complete, in many cases a very long time. For instance, for almost 500 days the government has prevented the holding of a by-election in Donegal, with an announcement today that the High Court will take two and a half weeks to deliver its judgement on this prolonged negation of the democratic will. Infrastructural projects, criminal investigations, tribunals, planning applications and restructuring programmes have often consumed massive amounts of time and money (much of the latter being diverted into the pockets of extravagantly well-paid private-sector professionals).

Just over 130 working days ago, the biggest restructuring programme in the history of the public sector was agreed between the government and representatives of almost a fifth of the workforce who are employed by the state. This process involves deep analyses of the service demands, work structures and activities of a third of a million workers in state employment across a wide range of activities throughout every city and town in the land. Following on from these analyses decisions must be made on how best to rationalise the services provided by these workers, and following on from these decisions the necessary alterations to systems and practices must be implemented. As is clear, at least to any objective person, this restructuring programme is massive in scale.

Subsequent to the Croke Park agreement in April there took place the democratic ratification by the various unions who were party to the deal. This process finished less than 90 working days ago. About 75 working days ago the government established the national implementation body to direct the restructuring programme.

Less than 15 weeks later there suddenly erupted a chorus of shrill voices, venting their indignation that this unprecedented process of transformation had not already begun to show tangible results. There have been repeated announcements, with obvious relish in many cases, of the impending death of the Croke Park deal. Of course, this has been presented as the result of foot-dragging on the part of the whole public service, despite the fact that hardly anybody outside senior management in that sector has yet been engaged in the programme.

Who are the people leading the charge in this latest round of anti-public sector attacks? What a surprise, they are the voices of IBEC, ISME, Independent Newspapers, FF and FG, all of which are right-wing entities that (a) cheered on or facilitated the business sector free-for-all which led more than any other factor to our economic catastrophe, and (b) have attempted to shift the blame for that catastrophe from our business elite onto the shoulders of the ordinary employees of the state.

These ‘journalists’, business representatives and politicians have based their renewed attacks on the failure to identify agreed restructuring – 75 working days after the implementation body was established. Given the idiocy, mendacity or lunacy of their proclamations on economic affairs over the past decade, their failure of reason or honesty should come as no surprise. However, perhaps these attacks form part of a carefully calibrated strategy, even if some of these right-wing allies are themselves unwitting players in that strategy.

Is it possible that the Croke Park deal is a con-job of grand deviousness? Could it be that the government suckered the unions into the deal fully in the knowledge that the unions’ part of the bargain would be subject by powerful right-wing commentators to a timeframe the narrowness of which renders impossible its deliverance? Is it possible that the national implementation body, under the auspices of the Dept of Finance and the Dept of An Taoiseach, was designed to guarantee a failure to move rapidly enough to satisfy the wolves in FF, FG, IBEC, ISME and their huntsmen in the print media?

In that scenario the government could and probably would make tens of thousands of state employees redundant, would impose further pay cuts for all remaining state employees, and would place all the blame for those measures on the shoulders of the very people suffering the redundancies and pay cuts. In short, the government would be satisfying the wish-list of right-wing commentators and politicians. The government line would of course be “we tried out best in good faith, but you didn’t keep your part of the deal”.

Given the social and industrial ineptitude of the ‘labour’ movement during the lifetime and death of the Celtic Tiger, it is eminently possible that the unions have indeed walked straight into a major trap, a trap that would likely spell the death-knell or complete irrelevance of those unions.

If the government has knowingly contrived such a trap, it was informed by the knowledge that they could rely on their friends in the media to ratchet up their ongoing campaign of irrational anti-public sector hatred.

Despite the obscenely hypocritical calls for “national unity” by some of those engaged in the demonisation of almost a fifth of the workforce, their campaign represents another element in the unravelling of what’s left of our society. In Ireland’s case at least, Margaret Thatcher’s vile assertion that “there is no such thing as society” could be close to realisation.
 

polcol2

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Jun 17, 2010
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I like the hypothesis, only one major problem with it though, you are giving this government far too much credit for being able to plan in such a manner. More like that they hoped that if they cobbled something together that public service reform would sort itself out and go away!! Anyway I assume its dead in the water. Savage cuts in the budget and when the bond markets say no to more money in the new year cut in public service pay. Everyone except FF to blame!!
 

louis bernard

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The IMF doesn’t know what Croke Park is, and they don’t do deals. When they arrive (very soon now) it will be an irrelevance.
 

an innocent abroad

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can somebody explain to me, why P.S. workers have more protection than other worker's. Why can they not be sacked? and why has their pay being protected? do we not live in a democratic state/ Excuse my ignorance, but why the hell not? Leaving a large Dublin hospital this morning, I noted 3 porters all sitting behind the desk in the main hall. Why do we need 3? and that's just one small obversation.
 

Fides

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Nah - just a classic Irish kick the ball into touch and hope something turns up later. It hasn't. next step is the budget where €1.5b or so of unidentified savings in public expenditure will be pencilled in. Then more meetings, negotiations etc and voila it is June 2011 and nothing has happened.

Only asking - you seem to be suggesting things are moving quickly. They're not, they are going at a snail's pace.
 

Baron von Biffo

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polcol2

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can somebody explain to me, why P.S. workers have more protection than other worker's. Why can they not be sacked? and why has their pay being protected? do we not live in a democratic state/ Excuse my ignorance, but why the hell not? Leaving a large Dublin hospital this morning, I noted 3 porters all sitting behind the desk in the main hall. Why do we need 3? and that's just one small obversatio the n.
The porters maybe surplus to requirements or should be more efficiently deployed, but this should not be the focus of attention. The real issues here are at a senior level. The terms and conditions are gold plated (hospital consultants etc.) where they can coin it on both sides of the divide (public and private). For every consultant there is a support team and array of admin people. Streamline these guys and the problems with porters and the like will also be solved. Take it up a level further gov ministers and sec gens of gov depts live in a paralell universe, if they sorted themselves out the efficiencies would flow down through out the civil service.
 

Baron von Biffo

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In response to the OP, Croke Park is a cynical mechanism to further hammer PS workers. It ended the industrial action while giving nothing in return but woolly promises from a dishonest government. It will be spun as a failure and workers will be blamed.
 

an innocent abroad

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are you calling a pension contribution a pay cut? and why are some retired p.s. workers getting more in retirement pensions than they ever earned? Why are some retiring ps workers getting golden handshakes tax free and topups to their pension pots? I don't know any retired private sector worker with those conditions!
 

Fides

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In response to the OP, Croke Park is a cynical mechanism to further hammer PS workers. It ended the industrial action while giving nothing in return but woolly promises from a dishonest government. It will be spun as a failure and workers will be blamed.
Is there an appetite for resurrecting industrial action in the PS or do you think they have missed the moment? After all while nominal pay will not be cut overtime and shift pay and allowances are going to get hit whcih means lower earnings.
 

Furze

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can somebody explain to me, why P.S. workers have more protection than other worker's. Why can they not be sacked? and why has their pay being protected? do we not live in a democratic state/ Excuse my ignorance, but why the hell not? Leaving a large Dublin hospital this morning, I noted 3 porters all sitting behind the desk in the main hall. Why do we need 3? and that's just one small obversation.
Are not porter jobs basically filled through political representations ?

Something like the Talbot workers in the 70/80s
 

an innocent abroad

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actually polcol I completely agree with you! isn't it amazing that the so called professional classe's in this little country of our's that is so sick right now seem to all suffer from the same malaise pure GREED. I bet more people die in this country from lack of access to proper health care, than drug addicts being supplied by drug dealers. but guess who goes to jail!
 

hammer

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Average cut of 10% across public sector pay and pensions would only save us €2 billion. Not enought especially when you factor in taxes lost & consumption reduced.

A 20% only €4 billion - see the problem
 

Broke

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can somebody explain to me, why P.S. workers have more protection than other worker's. Why can they not be sacked? and why has their pay being protected? do we not live in a democratic state/ Excuse my ignorance, but why the hell not? Leaving a large Dublin hospital this morning, I noted 3 porters all sitting behind the desk in the main hall. Why do we need 3? and that's just one small obversation.
Blame Bertie when the HSE was set up nobody was let go,he had to keep the unions happy.Would it not make more sense for staff to take a pay cut,instead of services being cut to the bone.
 

hammer

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Lets have a property tax to ensure all public sector pay levels & increments are maintained.

Do you all remember when the nurses were going to strike for a 35 hour week :)

There is no alternative. PS pensions & wages must fall on average by 20% by 2014.
 

darkhorse

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The Croke Park Deal was another example of the cosy cartel of FF idiots, their union pals and their sheltered workforce - another 'industrial peace' deal - screwing the taxpayer just like the many National Pay Agreements that have gone before it.
However, this time the idiots have gone too far and the deal will have to be undone as they have bankrupted the country.
 

hammer

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20% by 2014.

It should be laid out in the 4 year economic manifesto.

It should get an interesting reaction or will Fianna FAIL spin that they need to reduce current expenditure by 10% :)


You have to laugh that they expect GROWTH next year when the adjustment could be €4500 million - not a chance in hell
 

PrinceMax

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Mar 18, 2009
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Blame Bertie when the HSE was set up nobody was let go,he had to keep the unions happy.Would it not make more sense for staff to take a pay cut,instead of services being cut to the bone.
It makes sense for everyone else, obviously, but not public servants.
 

Baron von Biffo

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Is there an appetite for resurrecting industrial action in the PS or do you think they have missed the moment? After all while nominal pay will not be cut overtime and shift pay and allowances are going to get hit whcih means lower earnings.
Many PS workers feel they have zero support from their union leadership at the moment. For many in the lower grades another cut means there's nothing to lose by going on strike so if the leadership tries to play the safety valve game they played last time it could explode in their faces. If overtime pay is cut then some staff just wont do any. Similarly with shift pay.

There's little if any good will left in the PS so things could get nasty quite quickly.
 

Monday Monday

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Feb 9, 2009
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Considering the amount of top tier unionists (sic) who are on the boards of state bodies and who had access to the secret bribe (sorry... "Training") funds you might need to look a bit further than INM, IBEC and the government when you are looking for scapegoats.

It's over.
 
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