Unions give mixed reaction to pay proposals in government deal

Garda body calls for return of rent allowance as IMO criticises plans for health service

Proposals for public sector pay set to be enacted by a Fine Gael-led minority government have met with a mixed reaction from unions. File photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Proposals for public sector pay set to be enacted by a Fine Gael-led minority government have met with a mixed reaction from unions. File photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

 

The commitment to increase Garda numbers to 15,000 contained in the Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil agreement on government formation has been welcomed by the group representing rank and file gardaí.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) also called on the next government to reintroduce rent allowances for gardaí.

In a statement, the GRA urged the next government to abolish the current two-tier pay structure for its 10,500 members.

“We welcome the planned commitment to raising Garda numbers to 15,000. However, the GRA is concerned that no timeframe has been indicated for this recruitment drive,” said GRA president Ciarán O’Neill.

“We’re calling for the abolition of the two-tier pay system immediately and reinstatement of the rent allowance, thereby encouraging people to join the force and at the same time, restoring the pay and allowances of those who have joined since 2014.”

However, other proposals contained in the agreement have produced a mixed reaction from unions.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) was critical of commitments to reform the health service. It accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of having “neither the will nor the ideas to fix the health services” on the basis of the written document outlining the agreement.

The IMO, which represents doctors in all areas of the health service, expressed disappointment health was not given its own section in the document. It said commitments on health were “scattered piecemeal” throughout it.

It described the sum of €15 million to be set aside to tackle waiting lists as “paltry” and said the call for five-year projections on HSE spending was “almost laughable”.

Proposed reversal

Elsewhere, Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) general secretary Kieran Christie welcomed the proposed reversal of pay cuts for new public servants, including teachers and gardaí, saying his organisation was open to “any movement towards a single unified pay scale for teachers”.

Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) counterpart John MacGabhann said he would be waiting until more precise details were released before commenting on the pay proposals.

As part of the deal pushed for by Labour ministers, new firefighters will receive an annual rent allowance of €4,500 for the first time since 2012, when the previous allowance was scrapped as part of cost-saving measures.*

A similar allowance for gardaí was discontinued two years later, but there has so far been no mention of reinstating it.

Teachers’ unions have also called for the restoration of allowances for its members.

*Edited at 4.18pm on May 5th, 2016