Representatives from across Fórsa met for the first time last week to explore the potential for new cross-divisional, grade specific bodies called ‘equivalent grade committees’ or ‘professional committees.
Under the rules of new union, the National Executive Committee can approve the establishment of committees to bring together representatives from the same or similar grades. The aim is to co-ordinate and focus debate on issues of common interest.
Two committees are initially being set up: one for clerical officers and grade IIIs, and the second for executive grades, including grades VI-VII in health, local government, education and non-commercial semi state organisations.
A clerical officer/grade III seminar took place recently, where representatives from the CO grade in the union’s Civil Service Division met with grade III colleagues from health, local government and education.
Two days later the civil service executive grades (EO, HEO and AO) met with reps of grades IV-VII from health, local authorities, education and the non-commercial semi-state sector.
Both sessions heard presentations on pay and conditions and the current industrial relations issues specific to each grade in each division. These were followed by workshops, which considered how to build common work programmes for the grades and how the new committees might be structured after Fórsa’s first national conference in May.
The committees are expected to be important vehicles that will bring common purpose to members in particular grades in different divisions of the union, while helping to integrate representatives of the three former unions into the new Fórsa organisation.
The groups are to meet again after the May conference to consider a draft written report drawn up by joint general secretary Eoin Ronayne prior to the report being presented to the incoming executive for discussion and action.