Talks on Garda pay ‘anomalies’

The timing of the negotiations is also a significant win for IMPACT and other unions, who argued that the talks should be brought forward to the first half of next year, rather than taking place at an unspecified time in 2018. The significance of the revised timetable is that new provision for accelerated pay recovery can be included in next October’s budget if the talks are successful.Contacts between public service unions and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are continuing after minister Paschal Donohoe agreed that pay anomalies arising from the recent garda Labour Court settlement had to be addressed before the end of next month. The Government had initially argued that there were no implications for the broader public service, but eventually bowed to IMPACT’s argument that the garda award went beyond the Lansdowne Road agreement.

Both IMPACT and the ICTU Public Services Committee (PSC) welcomed the Government’s decision to enter early talks, saying the discussions would provide a platform for improvements in the Lansdowne Road agreement (LRA). IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody is leading the union side in the negotiations as chair of the PSC.

The minister adopted a ‘two-phased approach,’ which decoupled the garda ‘anomalies’ issue from the broader question of post-Lansdowne Road pay restoration. This will see talks on a successor to Lansdowne Road beginning as soon as the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) reports in the second quarter of 2017.

IMPACT continues to insist that the economy and exchequer finances are far stronger than anyone expected when Lansdowne Road was signed in the middle of last year. This is the basis of the union’s argument for accelerated pay restoration.

However, the post-LRA talks will be tough with minister Donohoe already indicating that a higher value should be placed on public service pensions because private sector retirement provision has declined in recent years. The ICTU PSC has made the opposite argument in its initial submission to the Public Service Pay Commission.

Public-private and international pay comparisons will also feature in the debate. This is also addressed in the PSC submission.