Gilmore says unions must be given space to consider deal
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin speaks to the media outside Lansdowne House in Ballsbridge Dublin this morning after agreement was reached on a new public sector pay deal. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times
Agreement has been reached between the Government and the country's public service unions on cutting €1 billion off the public sector pay bill.
Despite four major trade unions walking out of negotiations at the 11th hour, agreement was reached after marathon all night talks in Dublin.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said the deal, which has yet to be put to union members, would ensure public servants are less worse off than would have been the case if the Government had instead legislated for across-the-board pay cuts.
The deal, which runs until 2016, will replace the current Croke Park agreement, which was due to expire in 2014.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said political parties should stand back from the public sector pay process while proposals for a new deal are put to a ballot of workers.
“I think all of us should now respect the fact that trade unions have to consider the outcome of these negotiations and the members of trade unions will have to reflect and make their decisions in the course of ballots,” Mr Gilmore said this afternoon. “I have always believed…that it is best if political parties stand back from that process and give to the people who work in our public services the respect and space in order to make a decision.”
Mr Gilmore was speaking after the country's largest trade union Siptu warned the deal could still be rejected by union members. "I'm satisfied the proposal is the best one that could be achieved through negotiation," said Siptu president Jack O'Connor. "But industrial action is not off the cards. The majority of union members may decide to reject this proposal."
Under the terms of the deal, high earning public sector staff face pay cuts of between 5.5 per and 10 per cent. Pay cuts of 5.5 per cent will be introduced for staff earning over €65,000. The scale of pay cuts will be increased on a gradual basis, with those earning over €185,000 facing a 10 per cent cut.
Premium rates for staff working on a Sunday will be set at 1.75 times normal pay rather than double time. Public servants will also be asked to work longer hours and have their overtime payments reduced.
Staff earning more than €65,000 face a three-year freeze on increments, while those earning up to €35,000 will have a three-month freeze. Those earning between €35,000 and €65,000 will face two three-month freezes in the course of the agreement.