Unions acknowledge medicine is harsh but say members have avoided a far more bitter pill
ANALYSIS:The bottom line of the extension to the Croke Park agreement is that very many staff across the public service will have less money in their pay packet if and when it comes into force than they had beforehand.
However, trade unions who stayed the pace in the negotiations have argued that the situation would have been far worse if they had not taken part.
They contend that in reaching a deal they eased the severity of virtually all the measures originally tabled by the Government as part of its bid to secure a reduction in its pay and pensions bill over the next three years.
However, the proposals set out in a document drawn up by the Labour Relations Commission at the end of six weeks of talks will still prove to be hugely unpalatable. The document contains many of the big headline items originally set out by the Government in January, albeit in a diluted form.
Staff will be asked to work additional hours, there will be cuts to pay for high earners and reductions in premium payments. Overtime rates will also be slashed. Supervision and substitution payments for teachers will be ended.
However, unions can point to some victories in the process. The Government’s original proposal for a five-hour increase in the working week for all staff has been diluted. There will now be a minimum 37-hour week with a maximum of 39 hours.
The Government plan to eliminate increments has also been modified. Instead a three-year freeze on increments will be put in place for those earning more than €65,000.
For those earning up to €35,000, a three-month freeze on increments - the increment will cover 15 months rather than 12 - will be introduced.
For those earning between €35,000 and €65,000, two separate three-month freezes will be put in place.
For those already at the top of their incremental scale, they will be asked to contribute either through a reduction of six days in annual leave over the course of the deal (which runs to 2016) or a cash deduction from salary of an equivalent amount or the value of half of the last increment, whichever is the lesser.
As reported consistently in The Irish Times since before the talks began, the Government settled for introducing the cuts for those earning above €65,000. The pay cuts start at 5.5 per cent but will increase depending on salary.
The new deal also splits the difference between unions and management on proposed cuts to premium payments. Twilight payments for evening work will be abolished while the premium rate for Saturday will remain. The payment for Sunday will be reduced from double-time to time and three-quarters rather than time and a half as originally proposed.