Calls for pay restoration expected to echo from union conferences

Cuts reversal likely to be sought during conference season over next six weeks

Members of the Garda representative bodies GRA (Garda Representative Association) and Agsi (Association of Garda Sargents and Inspectors)  protesting in 2013 against proposed pay cuts in the new Croke Park agreement. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Members of the Garda representative bodies GRA (Garda Representative Association) and Agsi (Association of Garda Sargents and Inspectors) protesting in 2013 against proposed pay cuts in the new Croke Park agreement. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

There will be loud calls from various groups across the public service in the coming weeks for restoration of terms and conditions that were reduced following the economic crash.

While such demands are routine fare during the annual “conference season”, they take on an enhanced importance this year given the Government’s intention to enter talks on rolling back financial emergency legislation that underpinned the cuts.

Those talks are expected to get underway next month and to conclude in time for the outcome to be incorporated into the October budget. Any increased pay levels are unlikely to materialise in the pockets of employees before January.

In advance of the negotiations with the Government, various union conferences will debate motions calling for increases in pay as well as improvements to employment conditions.

Productivity measures

In the health sector, for example, the longer working week for nurses generates about €200 million in savings.

The conference season will run until mid-May, with the teachers up first this week.

The first cut in earnings for staff in the public service was the pension levy, which averaged about 7 per cent, introduced in 2009.

On Tuesday delegates at the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland conference in Killarney will debate a motion calling for this to be removed.

Croke Park agreement

At the Teachers’ Union of Ireland conference in Wexford, delegates will consider a motion calling for the phasing out of the public service pension levy and universal social charge with a view to their eventual abolition, as well as for the establishment of income parity for those employed since January 2011 (and also, in the case of teachers, since February 2012) with their colleagues employed prior to 2011.

At its conference in Ennis, primary school teachers who are members of the INTO will hear calls for the union on the expiry of the Haddington Road deal to use all means, including strike action, to press for the restoration of a common pay scale, the immediate reinstatement of qualification allowances and the full payment of outstanding salary rises due under previous national agreements.