Presidential Address to ADC 2015

 Colleagues,

Welcome to the 2015 CPSU Annual Delegate Conference in Killarney.

For a change, this conference will focus on the campaign to restore our pay and conditions rather than battling against pay cuts and changes in our working conditions. Pay increases are returning in the Private sector and we applaud and support the success of our trade union colleagues in that sector for securing those pay rises. We welcome to the return to job creation and pledge our union to support those workers right to have a trade union represent them in the workplace. Pay increases and job creation in the private sector are long overdue. We especially welcome the pay increases being secured for low to middle income workers in that sector.

 

But what about the Public Sector where lower paid workers like our members have not only had a pay freeze but cuts before taxes in the region of 15% and cuts of 20% in take home income? Its time now for RESTORATION!

Last year ADC charged the Executive to engage in exploratory discussions with other unions on the prospect of identifying the options available to the CPSU, if we were to choose to amalgamate with other unions. There have been a number of meetings with other unions over the last year and in line with last year’s motion a report is before all delegates today for discussion. It is my belief that with the agreement of conference after debating the report, the CPSU should continue these discussions until all a final report is available for discussion at either a future ADC or an SDC. I wish to thank the subcommittee formed to deal with the Amalgamation process for their efforts.   Also, as previously agreed at conference, delegates should be reassured that the ultimate decision will rest with entire CPSU membership in a ballot.

 

Let me address another motion passed at ADC 2014. It was agreed at conference overwhelmingly that the CPSU would campaign against water charges. The CPSU joined a number of likeminded unions to form the Right2Water group. To date the protests organised have delivered a substantial reduction in the proposed charges. The campaign continues however as we believe water is a basic human right and the costs of production are already provided for in general taxation. I would like to thank Des Fagan who is the CPSU’s Right2Water Organiser and all the CPSU members who have acted as stewards on each demonstration and most importantly all the CPSU members who have taken part in the defending our Right2Water.

Colleagues, a general election is looming. Money is apparently now to be returned to Civil and Public Servants. We will play our part in meeting to negotiate but only because this is our money which is due back and not because it suits any political agenda for the government in advance of an election. The members will make their own minds up on the election as they see fit.

 

We have had statements recently from some Ministers implying we don’t expect all that was taken will be given back and I quote “there is a realisation in the civil and public services sector that not all pay will be restored” …we’ll I’m sorry but there’s no such realisation among the lower paid that we represent! . And there’s more unreality with other politicians and one very senior managers only this week saying it will all depend on workers delivering more productivity and reform. Sorry to disappoint but our pay and conditions were cut but we continued to deliver the productivity and reform …let me say very clearly…there’s a snowballs chance in hell of us giving more for what is already earned and rightfully ours!

 

While we welcome reports the Government is thinking about restoring a portion of our pay shortly THERE SHOULD BE A REALISATION IN GOVERNMENT THAT THERE WILL BE NO PRODUCTIVITY AGREEMENTS UNTIL ALL OUR PAY AND CONDITIONS ARE RETURNED IN FULL INCLUDING THE OUSTANDING PAY INCREASE FROM PREVIOUS AGREEMENTS.

 

Since 2008 when successive governments broke the pay terms of the national agreements with the civil and public services unions our members have nevertheless had to adhere to those agreements, which included increases in productivity and reform. Our members cannot and should not be expected to do more in order for their money to be restored for …….after all we honoured those agreements throughout the bad years …its Government who broke them not us!

 

It sometimes seems to our members that they are Civil and Public sector workers are never given credit for the work they perform on their behalf of the State. When unpopular decisions by government are legislated for we get the brunt of public anger. During this period of austerity civil and public servants have become proverbial punch bags for sections of the public. Our members report an increase in verbal abuse over the phones…. there was a recent report of a nasty physical attack in a Social Welfare local office. And all for carrying out their duties as public servants on behalf of the government. This is not, nor should it be acceptable in any society.

 

I wish to highlight the work of our pay and conditions subcommittee undertook on your behalf in preparing and launching our RESTORATION! Campaign. The Committee consulted with members on this critical and central issues for all of us through our pay and condition online survey and developed a campaign strategy to highlight in what order we would seek restoration of our pay and conditions. I would like to put on record the contribution of our General Secretary Eoin and Deputy General Secretary Derek on that committee. The level of work put in by all involved is evident from the lobbying documentation before us today which highlights the affect the cuts and taxes have had on our member’s weekly pay.

The work of this committee won’t stop there, the incoming executive will face similar challenges and I have no doubt with dedication and enthusiasm they will continue the committees good work throughout 2015/16.

 

The government has lifted the embargo on recruitment in the Civil service. Upwards of six hundred positions are to be filled are grades represented by the CPSU. It is imperative that we recruit those new entrants and build on our membership. Promotion is back on stream and while we have serious concerns about elements of recent EO competitions it is good to see members at last being promoted to SO and EO and indeed for the first time ever directly to HEO through our success in negotiating the Cross Stream Promotions Agreement.

I would like to acknowledge our CPSU colleagues in the Semi State sector. Our members in An Post face mounting challenges and not all from An Post management. While our numbers have decreased in Eircom our remaining members remain dedicated to this union. Both sectors will always receive the support they need from the Executive and Head Office.

 

Decency in the work place should be a right for all workers. A coalition government which includes Labour, built on the foundations of the workers movement, has let workers in the public and private sector down badly.

 

This conference commends the Dunne’s Stores workers for standing up to their employer in search of secure jobs, secure hours, fair pay and the right to be represented by a trade union. CPSU members joined the picket line in support of Dunne’s Workers and continue to command CPSU members’ support and I urge all CPSU members to take part in their next protest on June 6th.

 

We also stand by the bus drivers for striking to protect the public service they work for from the outsourcing of routes. The Privatisation of public services will results in an increase in financial cost to the consumer and inevitability lead to poorer services to the citizen.

Outsourcing is the scourge of the public sector and all civil and public services unions should be prepared to go the road our bus driver colleagues have taken to preserve public sector jobs.

 

I would like to record my appreciation to Eoin and all the staff in CPSU Head Office for their work on behalf of all CPSU members.

 

Colleagues, our message today has to be, restoration of our pay and conditions, no new productivity agreements in return and the protection of public sector jobs by opposing outsourcing and privatisation of work and services.

 

Thank you colleagues