Connolly and college staff urge trade unions not to accept Croke Park deal

Trade unions and workers have no reason to support the Croke Park deal on public service pay and reform as it will “copper-fasten pay cuts” and lead to a pay freeze and lower living standards.

This is the view of Independent councillor Catherine Connolly, who also believes the deal will also ensure there is “no freeze on mortgage repayments, no freeze on taxes and no freeze on inflation”.

Cllr Connolly is urging trade union members to “carefully consider what they are being asked to support” in the Croke Park agreement. She said the deal “epitomises Government policy to date of making working people pay for an economic crisis they had no part in creating”.

She said the Croke Park deal includes an embargo on recruitment which will result in “worse public services” and 20,000 fewer jobs.

“This is economic madness,” she said, “cutting jobs at a time when unemployment is spiralling out of control in addition to cutting wages means people will have less money to spend and this vicious circle will drive the economy further into depression.”

Cllr Connolly said the Government would be wiser to commit to a public building programme and public enterprise to provide permanent buildings for health and education services. Cllr Connolly feels that the Galway City Council and the health services are having to rent too many buildings and this is a drain on resources.

“Such a programme would kick-start the local economy, provide jobs, provide training and provide a spin off for the local shops,” she said. “It would provide revenue for the Government in tax and VAT returns. It would engender confidence in all of us that we can come out of this recession with dignity and a job.”

The SIPTU (Academic Section ) at NUI Galway has rejected the Croke Park proposals. The academics accused the Government of “trying to shift even more of the burden of the financial crisis on to the backs of working families”, a move they believe will “undermine educational standards and ensure further bail-outs for bankers and developers”.

The academics argue that the proposal, if agreed, would require them, “under threat of compulsory redundancy”, to accept further pay cuts, meet “impossible and inappropriate productivity targets”, undertake longer working hours, and increase “already heavy” workloads.

They also believe the proposals will have a negative impact on students, as they will face “cuts to services, higher class sizes, lower standards of teaching, greater stress, and less support”.

The Galway academics have now joined with the Irish Federation of University Teachers, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland, and the Association of Secondary School Teachers of Ireland, in rejecting the proposals.

“We are trying to protect not only our own members but to safeguard the community as whole, especially the most financially hard pressed,” said a spokesperson for SIPTU (Academic Section ) at NUIG. “Our motion entirely and unequivocally opposes the public sector pay and benefit cuts masquerading as a ‘deal’.”

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