Talks on Social Solidarity Pact end without agreement

Friday 13 February 2009

The Social Partners, including the Irish Congress of Trade Unions failed to reach agreement on a Social Solidarity Pact at recent talks in Government buildings which concluded on Tuesday 3 February 2009. Mandate Trade Union was represented at the discussions by John Douglas General Secretary and Linda Tanham Assistant General Secretary. Mandate issued the following circular to members following the collapse:

Dear Members,

Discussions between government, employers and trade unions on the public finances and the economy ended without agreement on Tuesday 2 February 2009. The trade union movement during these talks sought to establish a social solidarity pact based on fairness, equality and on the principle that those in society who have the ability to pay must pay and that lower to middle income families and workers must be protected against wage and social welfare cuts.

Mandate members endorsed the national wage agreement in a secret ballot. The employers’ group IBEC which represents major retailers also endorsed the agreement and its pay terms, but last week advised that it could no longer support the pay terms agreed and stated that it was seeking a deferral of the pay element of the agreement. There is no agreement to defer the pay agreement, but employers can subject to proof and due process plead inability to pay.

Mandate’s position is very clear, our members have entered into an agreement and we fully expect that the full pay terms of the national agreement to be implemented in full and on time across all employments in the retail sector. Therefore, please be advised that Mandate will pursue immediately the implementation of the pay increases, the protection of retail workers’ earning patterns and hours and the protection of employment.

Workers in general and in particular workers in the retail sector are not the authors of our economic woes and we will not allow lower paid retail workers to carry the can for the mismanagement of the economy and the behaviour of financial institutions. While the retail sector is experiencing a difficult trading environment, there are many very profitable retail companies who are not in a position to plea inability to pay the increases due to their workers.

Mandate officials will keep all members updated on developments in their employments.

Yours sincerely
For Mandate Trade Union

John Douglas
General Secretary