Unions formally accept public-sector pay deal for rises of 6.5%

First pay rise under two-year agreement to be backdated to the start of February

Trade unions have formally ratified acceptance of a new pay deal that will see public sector workers receive a 6.5 per cent pay increase over two years.

Almost 400,00 public sector workers will receive a 3 per cent pay rise backdated to the start of February after the Ictu Public Service Committee (PSC), formally ratified the pay deal agreed between Government and union representatives at the end of August.

Under the terms of the agreement, public-sector workers — including civil servants, teachers and nurses — will receive a further increase of 2 per cent at the start of March 2023 and a 1.5 per cent or €750 rise, whichever is larger, at the start of next October.

The Government and Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) will be informed of the outcome of the ballot, which produced a large majority in favour of acceptance on Friday, formally clearing the way for the first backdated pay increased to be paid before the end of the year with many workers expected to receive the additional money at the end of November.

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The deal, technically an extension of the Building Momentum agreement that had been due to run out at the end of this year, will formally end at the end of December 2023.

PSC chairman Kevin Callinan — who is also the general secretary of the country’s largest public sector union, Forsa — said members of the many unions involved had weighed up the offer and decided it was worth backing in the circumstances.

He pointed out, however, that like the original agreement, it contains a review clause and unions would be monitoring the cost-of-living situation closely with a review to triggering that next year if the situation required it.

Mr Callinan also said he expected talks on a new, longer-term pay deal for the sector to get under way in 2023.

“Since the deal was struck on August 30th there have been a couple of worrying announcements. For instance, the Minister for Finance in his budget speech indicated a change in the department’s projection for inflation next year, up from 3 per cent to 7.1 per cent.”

He added “the ESRI were saying [in a projection on Thursday] 6.8 per cent for next year — so that’s going to put a lot of pressure on wage bargaining not just in the public sector but right across the economy next year.”

Mr Callinan told RTÉ's Morning Ireland: “I think people are looking to trade unions to ensure that they get good wage increases and that employers step up where they can, to do their bit to deal with the cost of living crisis,” Mr Callinan said.

Speaking after the result of the ballot had been announced, Siptu Deputy General Secretary, John King, said that while the terms of the agreement do not match current levels of inflation, “they will go a long way towards providing real relief to Siptu members in the public service and provide long-lasting improvements to their pay and conditions of employment.”

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a media monitor and reporter