Donegal politicians, unions, consider next step in wake of rejection of Croke Park II proposal

Joe McHugh, Fine Gael TD for Donegal North East, said he hoped government would engage with unions as quickly as possible, following this week’s announcement that a majority had rejected the Croke Park II proposals.

The public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said yesterday that public servants will take industrial action if the government moves on their own to implement wage cuts.

Deputy McHugh said he believed the vote against the package of pay cuts, wage freezes and longer working weeks was “a reflection of how difficult it is for a lot of people that are struggling”.

He said he knew last month from his contact with people in different parts of the public service in Donegal that the measure would not go through in the county.

“However, there still has to be savings made,” Deputy McHugh said. He said the unions have already shown their willingness to enter into negotiations.

Now, the deputy said, “the onus is on the government to set up a new formula for talks around meeting this savings of 300m euro before the end of the year”.

Kevin McKinney, industrial organiser with Siptu for the north west, said that if the government were to legislate for the pay cuts that unions rejected in Croke Park II, “you would expect a reaction”.

“I know on the ground in Donegal our members will not accept that,” he said.

“They are very, very much against that, considering the amount of pain they’ve taken.”

Siptu leader, Jack O’Connor, had asked the union membership to support the package, but Siptu members rejected it by a margin of 54 to 46 per cent.

Labour Sen. Jimmy Harte said there would be no rash decisions made in what he called a difficult situation for everyone.

He said the adjustments outlined in Croke Park II had been evenly spread out and protected people earning less than 65,000 euro.

“I’m sure the unions, in conjunction with Minister Howlin and negotiators, will find a solution which is in the interest of the country,” Sen. Harte said.