The final piece of the Fórsa jigsaw was put in place on 2nd January, when the Registrar for Friendly Societies confirmed that the new union was registered and cleared to start work on behalf of more than 80,000 members. The registrar is the statutory regulator for trade unions.
The new union launched with a brand new visual identity, and with strong backing from the members of the three organisations – the CPSU, IMPACT, and the PSEU – which had put in over two years’ work to make the amalgamation happen.
Those three unions effectively ceased to exist once the merger was sanctioned after a six-week statutory period that followed ballots, which strongly endorsed the move.
Fórsa now collectively represents workers across the civil and public services, commercial and non-commercial semi-state organisations, the community and voluntary sector, and private companies in aviation, telecommunications and elsewhere.
We are the second largest union in the country, and the strongest and most influential trade union voice in the Irish public service and semi-state sector.
After pooling the resources of the three former unions, Fórsa is also financially stronger, with €85 million in assets including a €50 million dispute fund. So, while members’ subscriptions are unchanged, the new organisation offers an enhanced range of financial benefits and free helplines.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), which brings together organisations with a combined membership of over 800,000, described the arrival of Fórsa as “highly significant and very positive for the Irish trade union movement.”
Its general secretary Patricia King said: “Fórsa provides a strong new voice for workers across a range of areas, and it will also enhance the capacity and effectiveness of the wider trade union movement across the island.”
Special arrangements have been put in place to ensure that the union’s three civil service constituencies retain a strong voice – and control over the decisions that affect them.
And, by agreement, the senior Fórsa leadership is made up of a four-person team drawn from the three former general secretaries, plus the former IMPACT deputy general secretary.
Former IMPACT head Shay Cody is now Fórsa’s senior general secretary. Former PSEU leader Tom Geraghty is general secretary (public services) with lead responsibility for members in the civil service. And former CPSU general secretary Eoin Ronayne is general secretary with responsibility for organisation and development, with some retained responsibility for industrial relations in the civil service.
IMPACT’s former deputy Kevin Callinan is now Fórsa’s deputy general secretary and, by agreement, he will become senior general secretary when Shay Cody retires.
The union’s Civil Service division will also be supported by heads of divisions and functions drawn from the former deputy general secretaries of the CPSU and PSEU, and the former IMPACT national secretary.
The former PSEU’s Billy Hannigan will lead for executive grades, while former CPSU official Derek Mullen will take care of civil service clerical grades. Meanwhile, former IMPACT official Andy Pike will lead on matters relating to technical, professional and service grades.