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Sinn Féin calls on workers to reject Towards 2016 Partnership Agreement

3 August, 2006

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Worker’s Rights, Arthur Morgan TD has called on workers to reject the proposed Towards 2016 Partnership Agreement, currently being voted on in unions across the 26 Counties. Deputy Morgan made his remarks following a decision by the party’s Ard Chomhairle to call on Sinn Féin members and supporters to vote no in their respective unions.


Deputy Morgan said: “The decision on Towards 2016 rests with the membership of the trade union movement, but it is one that will shape the economy and society of this state and all of its citizens for the next ten years. Consequently, Sinn Féin believes it is necessary to place our views on the record in a manner that is both forthright, but also respectful of the independence of the trade union movement to make this decision.


“As a result of our analysis, we are therefore calling on all union members, but in particular Sinn Féin members and supporters, to vote no to Towards 2016.”


“There are seven key reasons for our decision:


·          The deal is a spectacular failure for the low-paid workers who get a miserly half percent additional pay increase, an element of the deal described rightly by the ATGWU as ‘particularly insulting’.


·          The pay increases of 10% over 27 months barely keep pace with inflation currently running at 3.9% and rising. With house prices increasing at double figure rates and ESB and gas prices in the offing the proposed increases will be largely wiped out by inflation.


·          Section 28.9 of Part II of the deal opens up the public sector to outsourcing with unions only having a right of notification. This will undermine the terms and conditions of public sector workers and could see them being replaced with non-union labour.


·          While employers retain their ability to claim an inability to pay increases, union negotiators did not obtain an ‘ability to pay’ clause. There is no local bargaining power for workers in prosperous companies.


·          The social commitments entered into through the Agreement are for the most part reheated statements of existing Government promises and pledges, some of which date from the Programme for Government, in which a similar level of faith should be put.


·          Pay increases in the public sector are conditional on a range of productivity, flexibility and modernisation changes. Consequently, workers are obliged to give a blank cheque for their terms and conditions in order to secure wage increase that will be wiped out by inflation.


·          The document endorses Public Private Partnerships and contains no check against ongoing Government privatisation plans. Indeed, the decision to announce the sale of Aer Lingus was made during the negotiations.


“We have listened to the arguments made by supporters of the Agreement, including those of ICTU General Secretary David Begg, writing in An Phoblacht last month. Sinn Féin notes that there are some positives in the deal and we welcome the increased commitments to monitoring of labour law and to increase the number of Labour Inspectors, though we are sceptical of the bona fides of the Government.


“But we do not believe the good in this outweighs the bad or the dangerous. Consequently, we are calling for a no vote.”

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