Union seeks redress for lower-paid members
The trade union representing lower-paid staff in the Civil Service has signalled it will be looking for compensation following the abolition of time off afforded to members to cash cheques – the so-called bank time arrangement.
The Civil Public and Service Union (CPSU) has also said it will view any move by the Government to increase working hours as part of a second Croke Park agreement as a de facto pay cut.
Talks between the Government and public service unions on an extension to the agreement are expected to get under way on January 14th.
The union will also be looking for progress on a commitment to restore original pay rates to staff earning less than €35,000 when savings under the deal had been achieved.
In an end-of-year circular to its 13,000 members, CPSU general secretary Eoin Ronayne said the union would be seeking progress on a range of issues which were outstanding from the first Croke Park deal.
He said these included the failure to apply the compensation formula under the agreement of 1.5 times the annual loss to members who had bank time – 30 minutes off a week or fortnight to cash cheques – abolished under the first Croke Park deal.
‘De facto pay cut’
“The CPSU has already made it clear that we view any increase in working hours as an attack on flexi- and family- friendly working as a de facto cut in pay,” he said.
“We will be seeking progress on a range of matters outstanding under Croke Park, such as the restoration of pay on income up to €35,000, the unfair ‘standardisation’ of leave and privilege days and the failure to apply the compensation formula in the agreement to the loss of bank time.”
At the the CPSU’s annual conference in 2011, its former president Denis Walshe had said that by giving up time off to cash pay cheques, his members had increased productivity by roughly 50,000 days a year.
He added that in pay terms, they had given up 1.6 per cent of their salary.
In a number of other cases under the Croke Park agreement, where staff lost out in earnings of leave as a result of new reforms, a compensation formula of 1.5 times the annual loss was applied.
In his message to members, Mr Ronayne said the planned new round of talks between unions under the auspices of the Public Sector Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) were to start with a formal plenary session on January 14th.
“Its expected the formal session will hear proposals from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on how the new talks process might progress over the following weeks,” he said.
“The norm is for a series of sectoral negotiations to take place in parallel such as civil service, education, justice, health, local authorities etc. A meeting of all the unions involved [approximately 26] will take place beforehand.”
The Government is seeking to save €1 billion over the next three years through the proposed new deal on reform and productivity with the public service unions.
Unions expect one of the main changes that the Government will propose is the introduction of longer working shifts with no additional pay.
Other issues such as increments, premium pay rates and reforms to existing grade structures could also be on the agenda. Senior higher-paid staff who already work flexible hours could face cuts in their overall pay.