The New Union Project (FÓRSA trade union) and the CPSU as we are today.

This document is a synopsis of the scenario for our organisation and members should the CPSU amalgamate with IMPACT and the PSEU to form FÓRSA trade union or alternatively vote to remain as we are.
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FÓRSA trade union – the New Union Project CPSU – as we are

 

Organisation

·       There will be 6 separate and autonomous Divisions – Civil Service, Services & Enterprises, Health, Local Government, Education, and Municipal.

·       No change to any CPSU Branch

·       Branch AGMs and Procedures will stay as they are

·       No change to the election of Branch Officers, Committees and local reps,

·       Branch Nominations to elected office will be unaffected

·       Branches continue to table motions to Conferences

·       No Change to CPSU National Committees

·       Our Executive Committee will be replaced by:

(i) The Civil Service Division Executive which will have equal representation for CPSU & PSEU at 11 seats each with 7 for IMPACT grades in the Service

(ii) CPSU Semi State members (400) will have 2 seats on the Services & Enterprises Division interim Executive with four extra seats added to accommodate our membership and that of the PSEU

(iii) The National Executive Committee with equal representation from the Civil Service & Health Divisions and less

representation from the Services & Enterprises, Local Government/Municipal, and Education Division reflecting the break-down of the membership of the union

Organisation

·       Through Branch restructuring in recent years we now have 70 plus branches – 30 or so less than 15 years ago.

·       The loss of the Staff Officer grade to EO on regrading has meant as many as one in four experienced activists leaving the union.

·       The CPSU is now primarily a single grade Clerical Officer union with some related Departmental grades. This means the Executive has a singular focus on issues that affect these grades.

·       Branch restructuring will continue apace as we cope with this and work to reorganise around newer local representatives

·       The National Committee Structure is where our union facilitates detailed debate on industrial relations issues within Departments. This will continue but the number of representatives will have to be scaled back to reflect the loss of the SO members and the number of meetings reduced to cope with the fall in subscription income

·       Our Executive Committee was designed to represent greater membership and grade levels. The Executive is currently considering plans to reduce its costs through number of meetings and its number of members elected at ADC.

 

 

Subscription Rate

·       CPSU rate of 1% with 0.2% going to Benefit Fund continues

·       New CO recruits and related CPSU Departmental Grades will pay same to protect Benefit Fund for the future

Subscription Rate

·       The rate will continue at 1% as it is set in Rule

Membership

·       Over 80,000 members in multiple grades across the public service and semi-states and private sector.

·       Clerical Officers and their equivalents in the public service make up more than 20,000 plus members

·       Over 50,000 members earn less than €40,000 a year

·       The Civil Service Division will co-ordinate the representation of over 90% of workers in the Service

·       New CO or related grade recruits in the Semi-State, Agencies and Private Sector will be part of the Services & Enterprises Division

Membership

·       Membership has fallen as a result of the Moratorium on Recruitment, retirements and the loss of the SO grade from circa 14,000 in 2009 to under 10,000 in 2017.

·       We need two new CO recruits to join the union to compensate for each of the 1200 SOs which left this year i.e. 2,400. From the start of 2016 to date this year we have only recruited 855 out of over 1800 new CO recruits to the Service

·       We are working to support Branches step up their recruitment of new members. Recruitment by Branch reps is the best way to secure new members for the union

Resources

·       A combined staff of 120 – 67 Industrial Officials and 53 Administration

·       Existing CPSU Officials will transfer to the New Union with their existing allocations and relationships with CPSU National Committees and Branches

·       National Offices in three locations in Dublin with Regional Offices in Sligo, Galway, Limerick and Cork with others under consideration

·       Dedicated Media & Communications, Organising& Recruitment and Information and Rights Units

·       Multiple Training Courses

Resources

·       We currently have 15 staff – 7 fulltime officials and 8 administration staff (6.5 FTE). We supressed a full time official post in late 2016.

·       We have a well appointed Head Office in Dublin but we do not have a Regional Office presence and are unlikely to be in a financial position to expand into the regions.

·       The full time officials are required to share policy and specialist duties with their industrial relations duties.

·       Our Information & Rights Unit is unique within Public Service Unions and we are now combining Training with that unit.

Finance

·       Combined Assets of €85 million

·       Combined Dispute Fund of €50 million

·       Annual Subs Income of €21 million plus

Finance

·       Our Assets including our HQ are just €7.8 million

·       Just over €3 million is set aside for our Contingency or Dispute Fund

·       Our Annual Subs Income has fallen by €1 million a year between 2009 and 2016 and now stands at just under €3.2 million a year.

·       The Executive is currently working on a budget plan to cut expenditure by over €200,000 a year to tackle the annual deficit caused by the fall in subs income- this could include a move to Biennial Conference, less Executive and National Committee Meetings , cuts in Head Office costs etc.

Member Benefits

·       No change to CPSU Optical, Dental & Hospital Scheme

·       Additional new Benefit Package – €5,000 lump sum for sick leave over 12 months, critical illness, personal accident, death of member or members spouse/recognised partners plus legal advice, counselling support phone line services etc.

·       Greater economies of scale will mean cheaper products and services going forward

Member Benefits

·       No change to Optical, Dental & Hospital Scheme planned

·       Benefit Fund running small deficit in recent years

·       Recruitment of new members required to protect benefits going forward

·       Additional benefits not affordable currently

Policy

·       For grade specific issues only Divisional Executive members from that grade will make decisions

·       Each Divisional Executive will have full autonomy on matters that affect that Division alone e.g. no other Division could block the Civil Service approving industrial action following a ballot where the dispute involves only its members.

·       The National Executive will only concern itself with issues which cross two or more Divisions of the union and the day to day management of the staff and resources.

·       The new Equivalent Grade Structure will bring grades from each of the Divisions together to pursue common goals such as pay and conditions e.g. Clerical Officers will link up with their equivalent grades in Education, Local Government and Health to address the differences which exist between them on pay and conditions.

·       Policy will be decided as currently in the CPSU by Delegate Conferences

·       National issues will be decided by a National Conference attended by delegates from every Branch in the union every two years with the first taking place next May.

·       Issues relating to a particular Division such as the Civil Service will be decided at Divisional Conferences to be held every other two years attended by every Branch with members on that Division. The first Divisional Conferences of the Civil Service & Services & Enterprises will take place in April next year.

·       Our Branches will be free to argue and debate as they currently do at our ADC on motions tabled by the Branches in the normal way.

·       The objectives of FÓRSA trade union set out in the Rule Book are wider than those of the CPSU thereby allowing even greater flexibility and opportunity to put forward policies for debate and decision at Conference – more democracy not less.

Policy

·       CPSU policy decisions taken at Annual Conference (ADC) currently.

·       Single CO grade and related Departmental grades means ADC is focused mainly on issues affecting them

·       Budget cuts likely to lead to a Biennial Conference i.e. every two years and also reduced delegate numbers

·       Because of our smaller membership and numbers of grades the Executive Committee has a narrow focus for its work

·       Branches free to table motions and argue and debate in support of them at Conference

·       Motions must be tabled within the Objectives of the union set out in our rule book. These are more narrow that those of the New Union.

 

Strength

·       The New Union will be the second largest union in the Republic and the largest Public Service Union.

·       It can present a single united voice in negotiations at Departmental, Agency, and Company and Governmental level.

·       It will be the dominant force at National Public Service Negotiations well placed to champion the pay and conditions of lower earners as the vast majority of them will be in membership

·       Next to SIPTU it will be a major block at the ICTU capable of influencing other smaller unions and protecting members’ interests within Congress.

·       The media and commentators will be less inclined to ignore the union the way they do other smaller unions such as ourselves in recent years.

Strength

·       While the CPSU is no longer the largest union in the Civil Service following the loss of the SO grade we are still recognised as the voice of the lower paid in the Service

·       We depend on building ad hoc alliances during National Public Service Talks to secure improvements for our members.

·       At local level we need the support of other unions to be able to protect our members.

·       We have consistently declined to take industrial action unless we can guarantee the support of other trade unions working alongside.

·       Industrial Relations law makes it very difficult for another union to support us if we decide to take action in the workplace (ICTU All Out Picket required by ballot of all likely to be involved)

Identity

·       Nothing changes for CPSU members until Executive Committee level. Local Reps, Branch Officers, Head Office Officials will all stay the same in the New Union.

·       CPSU has equal representation to the PSEU within the New Union Structure. Safeguards in terms of voting at Conferences and on the Rules have been built in to ensure no one ‘former union’ can dominate the others

·       A robust complaints process including an external appeal to an independent third party has been put in place for individual and groups of members

·       A Review Process has been provided for in the rules with the potential for referral to external arbitration

·       CPSU activists will be able to argue and promote ideas and policies within the new union just as they do now. They may indeed seek to make common cause with the many former CPSU activists who are members of the two other unions taking part in the amalgamation.

·       There are more lower income members in IMPACT than in the CPSU and through the Equivalent Grade Structure our members will be able to build a platform with them within the New Union to advance the cause of lower paid workers.

Identity

·       We have a proud history and legacy. We have won many battles in the past. We have been recognised over the years as the voice of the lower paid.

·       We fear this voice could be too weak in a new union.

·       We can continue to speak out for the lower paid if we stay as we are but if we join we will have to persuade others of our case

·       We won’t have to compete with other grades of workers to promote our point of view in the media and at the negotiation table.