Fórsa and Siptu members back new public service pay deal

Agreement set to be formally endorsed by union side at Ictu meeting on Friday morning

Members of the country’s largest public sector trade union, Fórsa, have, like those of Siptu, voted overwhelmingly to accept the terms of the new public sector pay deal.

This makes its formal adoption at a meeting of the Ictu’s Public Sector Committee (PSC) on Friday all but a formality.

After the Fórsa’s ballot closed at noon on Thursday, it was announced that 91.3 per cent of the union’s members who had voted had supported the offer which provides for the extension of the current deal until the end of 2023 and pay increases of 6.5 per cent in three stages over that time.

The percentage of Siptu members who voted in favour was also over 90 per cent.

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Some 370,000 public sector workers will receive the increases agreed under the terms of the deal, the first instalment of which will be worth 3 per cent backdated to February 2nd of this year. Workers will then receive a further 2 per cent on March 1st, 2023, and 1.5 per cent or €750, whichever is greater, on October 1st next year.

Fórsa and Siptu join a number of prominent other unions, including the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland in returning substantial majorities in support of the deal, which was agreed at the end of August.

In all, 47,250 of just over 70,000 Fórsa members participated in the vote with 43,133 in favour and 4,117 against. On Wednesday, the INMO’s membership had supported it “by a margin of 97 per cent”, that union said.

Reacting to the outcome of his own union’s ballot, Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan, who also chairs the Ictu committee where the aggregate result will be formally tallied then announced, said the result was a strong statement of support for the pay deal.

“Throughout the ballot process Fórsa members engaged with the union very actively, and the strong endorsement by our members reflects a recognition that these pay measures will be a helpful support to people at a critical time,” he said.

“The PSC will meet tomorrow to consider the outcome of the aggregate ballot on the revised pay deal. Many unions have already returned a vote in favour. In the medium term we do expect to be back in negotiations next year to secure pay terms beyond the lifetime of the current agreement.

“In the meantime, unions will continue to closely monitor living costs and income pressures,” said Mr Callinan who stressed that the deal would be worth more than the headline 6.5 per cent to lower paid public sector workers due to the €750 that will be paid to them next October.

Announcing the Siptu result, the union’s deputy general secretary, John King, described the deal as representing “a significant improvement in pay for public service workers”.

“It will help to offset the cost of living and inflation crisis and will also provide long lasting improvements to the terms and conditions of Siptu members in the public service,” he said.

The ASTI, which represents 18,500 secondary schoolteachers, also voted to accept the proposal by 83 per cent. The turnout for the ballot was 45 per cent.

The union said it will participate in ICTU’s aggregate vote process for public sector unions on Friday.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Industry and Employment Correspondent at The Irish Times