Waterford man takes over as CPSU Deputy General Secretary

Former RTE Journalist and head of the National Union of Journalists in Ireland, Eoin Ronayne, has taken over as Deputy General Secretary of the country’s largest Civil Service trade union, the Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU). The union’s outgoing Financial Secretary replaces Rosaleen Glackin who retired last week. Ms. Glackin will shortly take up a post as a Rights Commissioner with the Labour Relations Commission.

Born and reared in Waterford city, Ronayne joined the CPSU five years ago after working for eight years as the Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) where he served two terms as an Executive member of the ICTU. A journalist by profession he worked for RTE News and Radio as a journalist, presenter and radio producer on a variety of programmes including Morning Ireland, This Week, the News at One and the Pat Kenny Radio Show in the ’80’s and early ’90s before taking up the NUJ’s senior full-time post in Ireland. A long time activist in RTE he led the four week strike in 1992 which is credited with reversing an anti-union approach by the then management and to the embracing by all parties of a partnership approach which helped address RTE’s serious financial difficulties in the mid ’90s in a ground breaking Transformation Agreement.

In a message to union members, Ronayne has pledged to promote the critical role of public service workers in Irish Society. ‘For too long we have bitten our tongues while many media commentators, so in awe of the wealth and status of the likes of O’Leary and O’Reilly, have attacked the concept of public service and the work of our members’ he said, adding ‘I am determined to stand up for the concept of public service wherever and whenever and against any further privatisation of public services’.

Referring to the debacle of Eircom and the latest convulsions in Aer Lingus he said ‘can anyone seriously expect public service workers to say yes again to privatisation’? On the contrary he said unions and their members must work to re-establish the confidence of the citizens of the state in the value of public ownership and the reality that public service can and does deliver for those who are most in need in our society. He urged union members ‘Let’s not be ashamed of standing for what’s morally right in a time when greed and individual gain are seen as worthwhile characteristics by elements of the media and big business’ and he called on organised workers to be in the ‘vanguard in championing justice and equality as value benchmarks in our society’.

Commenting on the ‘current nonsense of a verification process’ used under Towards 2016 to assess whether public service workers should be paid the basic pay elements of the national agreement, Ronayne said any new National Agreement needed to revisit this element with a view to putting delivery of public service outputs at the centre rather than the subjective appraisal of the minutiae of Departmental Action Plans.

‘Our members have had enough of being the fall guys for the failures of others’ he said adding that ‘for too often CPSU grades have carried the can for the inability of others higher up in the structure to deliver on their commitments’. He said this was not meant as a criticism per se of mangers but a comment on the ‘nonsense of trying to measure each and every action right down the line of command when what really mattered was delivery of an improved service to the public’. ‘I know full well from my work representing members in Revenue, Social Welfare and other Departments that the public has been well served and I reject outright the mantra that value has not been forthcoming for the pay increases under National Agreement and Benchmarking’ he said.

Ronayne will play a key role with CPSU General Secretary Blair Horan in articulating the views of lower paid Civil and Public service workers in the run up to the opening of talks on a new National Agreement and following the publication of the second Benchmarking Body report.

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