Union says talks to address inequities in pay for new entrants should begin immediately

The country’s largest public service trade union has decisively backed the proposed new public service agreement.

Members of the trade union Impact supported the proposed deal by a margin of 77 per cent to 23 per cent on a 52 per cent turnout.

The union has about 60,000 members with about 50,000 in the public service.

In a statement after the result, Impact said that talks to address inequities in pay arrangements for staff who entered the public service after January 2011 should begin immediately if the proposed new accord is formally ratified by the public services committee of the Irish Congress if Trade Unions in September.

The Impact vote on Monday makes it more likely the proposed agreement will be backed intimately by the public service trade union movement.

The deal has already been supported by higher civil and public servants in a ballot.

However it was overwhelmingly rejected last week by primary school teachers.

Impact said that if accepted, the proposed new public service agreement would facilitate negotiations on the so-called “new entrants” issue, which saw lower pay scales introduced for staff who joined the public service in 2011 and after.

Top of pay scale

The union said that although the scales were merged in 2013, it still took new entrants’ two years longer than other public servants to reach the top of their pay scales.

The Government has argued that the restoration of pay equality across the public service would cost more than €200 million per year.

Impact deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan said he believed the process set out on the proposed agreement could result in the removal of two incremental points from most pay scales. This would mean faster progress up the scale for new entrants, and an equal scale-length for staff who joined the public service before and after 2011.

“The proposed agreements will see the restoration of pay cuts and a significant proportion of the so-called pension levy for the vast majority of public servants, including new entrants. This is a good outcome, soured by the corrosive iniquity between pre- and post-2011 staff which, in the public service, is now the number one legacy of the crisis. It needs to be dealt with urgently and conclusively.”

“If the majority of unions vote to accept the agreement, Impact will be demanding that this work begins as soon as the Ictu Public Services Committee meets in mid-September to confirm the ballot outcome. I believe we should be in meaningful talks before the end of September. We need to find imaginative ways of resolving the problem in every part of the public service, including the education sector,” he said.

Outsourcing protections

Impact said it would continue to avail of outsourcing protections which, on the unions’ insistence, were maintained in the new agreement, to guard against privatisation. The union also said it would be consulting with relevant groups of members before utilising the agreement’s procedures for examining recruitment and retention difficulties in certain parts of the public service. And it insisted that local public service employers must be held to the implementation of agreed measures to develop family-friendly work practices.

Impact said it would also seek the application of the pay terms set out in the proposed accord in the State-funded community and voluntary sector, and said it would continue to pursue pay rounds for its members in commercial enterprises.