[Sinn Fein]

26th March 2003

Ó Caoláin disappointment at ICTU decision to accept `sustaining progress'

Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson Caoimhghín O'Caoláin has expressed his disappointment at the decision of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to accept `Sustaining Progress'.

The Cavan-Monaghan Deputy said: ``It is still Sinn Fein's view that `Sustaining Progress' represents a poor deal for Irish workers and the low-paid, especially those working in the private sector. The narrow margin of the vote at the ICTU Congress confirms a growing level of disquiet amongst Trade Unionists at the Partnership process.

``The pay rise of 7% will not, in my view, keep pace with inflation and there is no sign of any movement on issues like Trade Union recognition. At the same time the deal signs Unions up to compulsory binding arbitration.

``We believe the way forward for Trade Unionists is to begin a determined campaign to organise workers in the private sector. Progressive alliances must be built between the Unions, the Community and Voluntary pillar which also has grave difficulties with the deal and with those parties who have a policy of critical engagement with the Partnership process. Only in this way can we present a united front in support of worker's rights, decent pay and real social progress.''

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