Government formally invites unions to new public pay talks

Negotiations on extending the Lansdowne Road Agreement to get under way next week

The Government has formally invited trade unions and representative bodies to talks on a new public service pay deal and on the unwinding of controversial financial legislation.

The negotiations on an extension to the existing Lansdowne Road public service pay deal are expected to get under way next week.

A separate consultation process will take place with representatives of retired public service employees.

The Irish Times reported over recent weeks that the new deal is likely to involved pay increases - possibly of up to six per cent - for public servants over three years, along with significant changes to public service pension arrangements.


The Government is likely to press for any pay increases to begin coming on stream in the summer or autumn of 2018, rather than at the start of next year.

As part of the new deal, the Government is expected to eliminate the existing public service pension levy - which was introduced as an emergency measure in 2009 and currently averages about five per cent.

However, staff who have fast-accruing pensions - such as gardaí, judges, military personnel and politicians - are expected to be asked to pay more in pension contributions, as are those appointed before 2013.

The latter group is covered by a superannuation scheme considered by the recent Public Service Pay Commission to be worth 12 - 18 per cent more than its private sector equivalents.

The Government is understood to have warned unions in private that productivity measures, such as the requirements for public service staff to work additional hours without extra pay, are “red lines” in the talks and that no concessions are likely in these areas.

Minister’s statement

Speaking on Tuesday, Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said: "Following consideration of the [Public Service Pay Commission] report by Government, I have now invited the representative organisations for public servants to enter discussions.

“The purpose of these discussions will be to seek agreement with staff interests on an extension to the Lansdowne Road Agreement [and] to provide for an agreed approach to the continued unwinding of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Fempi) legislation.

“This agreement will be sought while securing the productivity gains of the Lansdowne Road Agreement and previous collective agreements.

“The discussions will also seek to secure and to provide a fair, balanced and sustainable response to the expectations of public servants in the area of pay on the one hand and an economy which is subject to ongoing financial constraints and a number of emerging international risks and challenges, not least of which is Brexit.”

The Minister said he expected all parties to engage constructively and in a realistic way during what will be a complex and difficult negotiation.

“Public service collective agreements, and by definition public servants, are widely and correctly recognised as having made a particularly valuable contribution to the State’s economic recovery through providing stability, certainty and industrial peace,” he said.

“Thankfully, we are at a point where we can consider and negotiate on modest improvements to current public service pay and conditions, while also recognising that Government must continue to act prudently regarding the management of the national finances.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent