The leader of the country's biggest union has claimed that while last week's clarifications of the Croke Park pay deal did not change any part of the original proposal, they did alleviate "unjustified fears" among workers that the proposal represented an attack on their basic pay and conditions.
Jack O'Connor, president of Siptu, told the Sunday Tribune that the clarifications produced by Kieran Mulvey of the Labour Relations Commission last Thursday will allow public servants to "consider the proposals in a more balanced way".
Other union leaders were quietly confident last week that the clarifications had tipped the balance decisively towards acceptance of the deal.
The deal received a triple boost last week. The union representing senior public servants, the Ahcps, voted over 85% in favour of accepting the deal last Friday while previously the Pseu, representing middle management grades, also backed the deal.
But the most significant boost to the Croke Park deal came on Thursday when the executive of the biggest public service union, Impact, changed its mind in the light of the Mulvey clarifications and recommended their members back the deal.
Assuming that Siptu and Impact members follow the advice of their members and back the deal in ballots to be concluded next month, as now seems likely, their voting strength alone would carry the deal over the line.
While the Siptu executive had recommended acceptance of the Croke Park deal even before the clarifications were produced, O'Connor stressed that this was only a strategic decision based on the consideration that the deal represented the best available in the current circumstances.
But O'Connor said that there was still a lot of anger out there over the government's handling of the economy which protected the wealthy while placing the burden of recovery on ordinary workers.
"If I were deciding on this by instinct as opposed to strategically I would be voting against it," admitted O'Connor.