Nurses propose package to avoid pay cuts
Nurses have proposed that unions should explore the freezing of pay increments for all public service staff earning more than €35,000 as part of a package of measures to avoid cuts in existing earnings.
At a meeting of the public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions yesterday, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) suggested a package involving a reduction in public service numbers, a pay cut for high earners and a freeze on increments for those earning in excess of €35,000 could generate sufficient savings to avoid a fall in current earnings for the bulk of public service staff.
Organisations representing nurses, gardaí, fire service personnel, paramedics and prison officers have strongly opposed Government proposals to cut premium payments for weekend and evening work which they maintain will significantly cut their existing earnings.
However, it is understood other unions at the meeting of the public services committee yesterday argued that the INMO proposal would not work.
Sources said other unions maintained the proposal would present problems of equity as staff who had reached the top of their incremental pay scale would be unaffected by any freeze.
Some unions are also understood to have questioned whether the yield from such a package of measures would reach the €1 billion in savings on the public service pay and pensions bill being sought by the Government over the next three years.
The Government had initially proposed the elimination of the increment system at the start of the current talks on an extension to the Croke Park agreement. It is understood there is still disagreement on the issue of increments between the parties.
Any deal between public service unions and the Government is expected to involve some combination of additional working hours, cuts to premium payments, a pay cut for high earners and a significant reduction in the €125 million paid to teachers in supervision and substitution payments.
There has been no agreement on the threshold at which the proposed pay cut for high earners would come into effect. However highly placed sources said yesterday that it was likely to be €60,000- €70,000.
Talks between unions and Government representatives are scheduled to continue today, with some sources suggesting the process will intensify.
The 24/7 frontline alliance of organisations representing staff such as gardaí, nurses and prison officers is to meet again tomorrow to consider the next stage in its campaign against Government proposals to cut premium payments for weekend and evening work.