Yesterday, Thursday 19 May 2016, IMPACT trade union’s conference took place. At it, its members voted overwhelmingly in favour of continued talks on a possible merger with two other trade unions. This would create a new union with somewhere in the region of between 80,000 and 90,000 members. The unions involved are IMPACT, CPSU and PSEU. This new union, ostensibly being called the “New Union”, would represent workers in the public service, commercial organisations, and state agencies. IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said that this new union would assuredly be “democratically accountable and better able to defend and advance our members’ interests”.
Separate ballots at both the CPSU and the PSEU conferences will follow successful negotiations between the three unions.
What do these unions do?
IMPACT is a 60,000-strong union representing those in various “public service occupations, grades and professions in health, local government, education, the civil service, and voluntary and community organisations”. There is also some representation of workers of semi-state organisations.
The Civil, Public and Services Union has around 12,000 members mainly composed of those in the civil service “and a small number of Agencies and Semi-State and Private sector companies”.
The Public Service Executive Union represents staff in “all Government departments and some commercial and non-commercial State agencies. The union presents staff mainly in the executive, junior and middle management grades”.
How and Why?
A conference paper entitled “The New Union Project” was circulated yesterday; it outlines the structures that have already been laid down, plus a rationale and roadmap for progression.
The report begins by laying out the landscape for those in the public service, following the crash. “We have seen, in this country, however, that the moment there was a setback to growth, the price was paid by workers.” This is true especially of public sector workers. The report comments pf the “demonisation of public servants amongst the media, and in some political quarters”, despite the grave sacrifices made. Following this, the disparate unions had a hard job of clawing back what was taken when the growth restarted.
So, then, a new union is proposed. The report states:
“A New Union offers the potential to harness the numerical and intellectual strength of the members, activists, officials and leaders of CPSU, IMPACT and PSEU, into one, single, union for the majority of the Civil Service, for some state bodies and as a part of a broader public service organisation.”
The “coming together” of these unions was “strongly recommended” by the ICTU in the 2013 Re