'Concessions' for unions in talks
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar says it was always the plan to have add backs for unions that looked after members. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has said there would be no concessions for unions who left the public service pay talks process.
It was "always the plan" of the Government that there "would be concessions and there would be add backs for unions that looked after members," by engaging with talks, he told RTE Radio’s This Week programme.
Such concessions included pension levy alleviations for lower paid workers. Comparing nurses and teachers, Mr Varadkar said by staying in talks the teachers achieved equalisation in new entrant pay rates.
Mr Varadkar hoped the majority would accept the deal and those who did not would accept the vote of the majority.
Mr Varadkar said the Croke Park extension would bring €1bn in savings, within which was over €100m in concessions given to trade unions who stayed within the talks.
Meanwhile Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty said the Government has failed to make the deal fair and tackle pay inequalities in the public service.
“If adopted, the extension to the Croke Park Agreement will result in a loss of income for almost all public servants, but those only those earning more than €65,000 per annum face a core pay cut," Mr Varadkar said in a statement.
Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton yesterday said the Croke Park talks were negotiated fairly, and denied workers whose unions left the negotiations were being punished.
It emerged on Friday that firefighters and prison officers would retain premium payments under the proposed deal, but groups such as gardaí, nurses and doctors continue to face cuts to Sunday premium rates and the abolition of “twilight” payments under the proposed agreement.
Speaking to RTÉ Radio, Mr Bruton said the Government had accepted alternative proposals put forward by representatives who had stayed to negotiate the fairest contribution from their sector.
“There’s no question of punishment. The government offered a certain approach,” he said.
“Always on the table were elements in respect of premium pay, elements in respect of higher paid people, elements in respect of longer working hours and elements in respect of increments. A mix across all those was negotiated.”
Meanwhile, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said it was “regrettable” that the Garda Representative Association did not participate in the Croke Park talks.
"It is also regrettable that they are misleading people by stating that they had not capacity to participate. The garda representative bodies have in the past participated and talks have taken place,” he said.
“They chose at a very early stage to exit from the talks. As a consequence they weren’t able to present, decided not to present, to those engaged on the other side with the Labour Relations Commission the very special issues members of the garda force are concerned about."