New public service pay deal faces obstacles, union warns

Impact says ‘troubling straws in the wind’ have emerged in talks with Government

What are the odds on a new agreement being reached between the Government and 300,000 State employees have lengthened, the country’s largest public service trade union has said.

In a bulletin to its 60,000 members, Impact said some “troubling straws in the wind” had emerged during the first week of talks between the Government and trade unions and staff representative bodies on a revised public service agreement.

Impact said the agenda of the management side in the talks to secure increased productivity “seemed designed to reduce incomes rather than restore them”.

The union said the proposal to facilitate greater outsourcing of public services, which was tabled by Government representatives at the talks last week, was “unballotable”.

The talks, which have been under way for the last week, will turn to the central issue of pay for State employees for the first time on Monday.

The Government may also on Monday reveal more details of its proposals for staff who have faster-accruing pensions to contribute more towards their existing superannuation benefits.

In its bulletin to members, Impact said it reckoned that “the odds in favour of a pay deal being concluded and put to ballot have lengthened as we head into the second week of talks on an extension to the Lansdowne Road agreement.

“There have been only two occasions in recent memory – both in 2009 – when national pay talks collapsed. The current process isn’t expected to be the third, but there are some troubling straws in the wind.”

Impact said Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe and other members of the Government had consistently maintained that they valued the stability and certainty that accompanied public service agreements.

It said Ministers had also highlighted the contribution that public servants made to a remarkable Irish economic recovery, and claimed to want another deal that would see an “orderly” end to the financial emergency legislation which underpinned pay cuts.