Thursday February 27, 2020

Siptu strike ballot: 'I'll do what's right for country' – Donohoe

Business leaders warn on competitiveness amid escalating public sector unrest

10th November, 2016
Threat of action Pic: RollingNews.ie

Chambers Ireland has warned of significant and unquantifiable risks to the Irish economy.

The business representative body has said imminent political changes could turn Ireland's current trade policy on its head.

As Siptu this afternoon said it would be balloting its 60,000 members for strike action, Chambers Ireland warned on the need to remain competitive.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe already told ICTU this week that further communication will take place.

The minister said that the government is committed to Lansdowne Road and to "doing what is right for the entire country".

Chambers chief executive Ian Talbot said there are serious implications for exports, investment and ultimately jobs.

“Ireland is currently continuing to borrow to fund current, day-to-day expenditure and this is not sustainable.

"Facing a period of economic uncertainty, the state cannot afford potential increases to borrowing.”

Earlier today Siptu announced it is to ballot its 60,000 members for strike action - unless the Government agrees to talks on a new pay deal.

Its president Jack O’Connor said he wants ministers to come to the table by the beginning of February.

He set a deadline of this day week for the government to agree a date for talks.

O’Connor warned that if there is no progress on the issue his union's national executive will authorise any group covered by the Lansdowne Road agreement to ballot for industrial action or strike action.

O’Connor said: “We utterly reject the assertion that there is no money and that it is a choice between pay increases and services for the public.

"This is an absolutely false dichotomy. The fact of the matter is that the government made choices in the budget. For example, it decided to continue to gift business in the hotel and hospitality sector with special VAT concessions costing more than €600 million per annum at the taxpayers' expense.

"They chose to do so despite the fact that the industry has fully recovered.

"Moreover, they chose to retain this very costly VAT concession notwithstanding the fact that employers in the industry continue to refuse to participate in the Joint Labour Committee to negotiate some improvement for their employees who are the lowest paid workers in the country.

"At very least, the government should have insisted that generous concessions at the taxpayers' expense, which are no longer necessary, should be accompanied by some modicum of social responsibility."

O’Connor said the government was also prepared “to splurge a further €46 million on gifting for the wealthy through cutting capital taxes”.

He said it is not too late for the government to amend the Finance Bill to facilitate negotiations on a new public service pay deal.

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