Government’s public service pay offer ‘not credible’, unions say

An improved offer is needed to continue talks, Workplace Relations Commission is told

The Government’s offer of a 5 per cent pay increase over two years for public servants is “not credible”, and an improved offer is needed to continue talks, unions have told the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

The Irish Congress of Trade Union public services committee (PSC) said it backed the union negotiators’ view that the Government’s recent pay offer could not credibly be put to ballot while low and middle-income workers struggle with soaring prices.

Talks between unions and the Government on public sector pay got under way in early June at the WRC.

Under the current public sector pay agreement, Building Momentum, public sector workers received a 1 per cent pay increase last year, with a further 1 per cent due this October. Unions triggered a review clause contained within the agreement almost four months ago due to higher-than-expected inflation in 2021 and 2022.

The Government then offered an additional increase of just 2.5 per cent for the 2021-2022 period of the current agreement, which is now under review with the assistance of the WRC.

This was “clearly inadequate when inflation is likely to be at least 9 per cent over that period,” PSC chairman Kevin Callinan said in a letter addressed to the WRC’s director general, Liam Kelly, this week.

It remained the union’s position the offer “cannot credibly be put to ballots of low and middle-income public servants”.

The PSC “endorsed this position, which cannot change unless the Government’s side is prepared to make an improved offer for 2021-2022″, the letter said.

The PSC also agreed its officers could not credibly reach an agreement about pay in 2023 before the current pay terms of Building Momentum have been reviewed and improved.

Mr Callinan told the WRC that public service unions had expected an improved Government pay offer to be made.

“In common with workers across the economy, public servants were currently bearing the full brunt of large and sustained increases in the cost of home heating, fuel, food, housing, childcare, and many other essentials,” he said.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times