Draft agreement on public sector pay reached

The Government and public service unions have reached agreement on a draft pay agreement which will cost €880 million over the next three years or €1.1 billion over four years.

The cost in 2018 will be €180 million.

By the end of the agreement, 90% of public servants – those earning below €70,000 – will be out of the financial emergency FEMPI legislation.

More than 300,000 Government employees stand to gain from pay restoration and changes to pension contribution arrangements.

The Government backed down on its demand for more outsourcing of public services, but unions failed to secure special arrangements for lower paid new recruits.

The deal delivers pay restoration for public servants in two ways.

Firstly, from a series of phased pay increases starting on 1 January 2018; secondly, from a three tier approach to funding pensions based on the level of benefits enjoyed by the individual.

250,000 people recruited before 2013 will see pay improvements ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over the next three years.

For 50,000 hired after 2013 with inferior pensions, the gains will be between 7 and 10%.

However, 23,000 workers, including Gardaí who can retire early on full pensions, will benefit least.

Unions succeeded in blocking a Government demand for more outsourcing, but failed to secure any winding back of the requirement to work 15 million additional unpaid hours per year – though staff will be able to revert to their original shorter week subject to a pay cut.

Each union must now consider the proposals, prior to putting them out to ballot.

Main points: Proposals for an extension of the Lansdowne Road agreement

The deal has been welcomed by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe who said details of the agreement will be published by the Workplace Relations Commission in the coming days.

Mr Donohoe said he will take the deal to Government for discussion and “arrangements will also be made to put it to ballot across the range public service sectors to which it applies, with a view to being endorsed by union members over the coming weeks”.

IMPACT Director of Communications Bernard Harbor said that on balance the deal was the best that could be achieved.

He said the restoration for the lowest paid was in line with the best deals currently being done in the private sector and the most important thing on the non-pay front was that unions had maintained the protections against outsourcing that they had had since the height of the economic crisis, describing this as a really important win for the trade union side.

However, he expressed disappointment that there had not been more movement on the issues of unpaid working hours and new entrants.

He stressed that by the end of the deal, 90% of all public servants would be out of the FEMPI pay provisions, while a quarter would be exempt from onerous pension contributions.

Teacher, nursing unions unhappy with pay deal

ASTI General Secretary Kieran Christie said the agreement was extremely disappointing in failing to adequately address the issue of lower pay for new entrants.

President of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland Joanne Irwin said her union had come into the talks thinking the agreement would address the issue of new entrant pay – but it does not.

She said all that was in the document was an examination and a discussion in 12 months’ time which is not enough.

She said new entrants had waited long enough, a view she imagined the TUI executive will take at its meeting tomorrow.

INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said there were still details to be tidied up in relation to their concerns about staff shortages and recruitment and retention problems.

The INMO had sought special financial incentives and pay parity with grades including physiotherapists – but did not secure any special increases, though there will be a review conducted by the Public Service Pay Commission.

Mr Doran said they needed details of how exactly the issue will be handled, the speed at which it will be handled, and the proximity of delivering an outcome which has to address the crisis that has not gone away.

He said nurses could not wait for two or three years and the Government knows that.

The INMO executive will consider the document on Monday and Tuesday before putting it out to ballot.

General Secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers Mike Jennings said the deal did not have everything they could have wished for, but the main thing for members was that the FEMPI legislation must be completely and utterly buried.

General Secretary of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants Ciaran Rohan said that while there were some reasonably positive aspects, it was disappointing that it would take five-and-a-half years for higher paid grades to come out of FEMPI.

He said that was not something they had envisaged when the crisis started in 2008.