Increased productivity part of Lansdowne deal

Proposals also places new restrictionson outsourcing in public service

Brendan Howlin, Minister for Publin Expenditure and Reform, speaking to the media outside  Lansdown House. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Brendan Howlin, Minister for Publin Expenditure and Reform, speaking to the media outside Lansdown House. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

In return for the increased earnings set out in the new Lansdowne Road agreement, unions will have to sign up to delivering greater productivity. They will also have to reaffirm their commitment to resolving disputes in the public service by peaceful means.

The deal – reached between the Government and unions and drawn up by the Labour Relations Commission – says efficiencies need to be maximised, and productivity increased through revised work practices and other initiatives.

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin said after the deal was announced: “Nobody in the public service has had a pay rise. Everybody has had a pay cut. We now want to map out a path for pay recovery.”

The deal also says the parties “re-commit to effective engagement across the platform of the Government’s delivery of its change and reform agenda, and understand that differences will continue to require to be addressed in a structured manner”. Disputes It says that where necessary they will be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the document which set out mechanisms for dealing with disputes.

The proposed accord sets out the Government’s reform plans for different parts of the public service. These include:

nThe Civil Service renewal plan.

nThe education sector – the further education and training strategy; curricular reform within schools; the review of apprenticeship training in Ireland; the national strategy for higher education to 2030; the national strategy to improve literacy and numeracy (2011 to 2020);

nThe local government sector – the action programme for effective local government and Irish Water Programme;

nThe health sector – the future health strategic framework for the reform of the health service, associated structural reforms such as

the establishment of hospital groups and community healthcare organisations;

n The justice sector – the review of the Garda Síochána.

Under the deal the parties will be obliged to reaffirm their commitment to settling disputes by peaceful means through binding arbitration.

The proposed agreement says there will be no cost-increasing claims for improvements in pay or conditions of employment by unions, Garda and Defence Force associations or employees during the period of the agreement.

The proposed deal places new restrictions on outsourcing in the public service.

In any move to outsource an existing service the deal maintains that, in the evaluation process, “the totality of labour costs” will be excluded. Outsourcing This provision on outsourcing was criticised last night by

employers’ group Ibec which described the measures as “overly restrictive”.

Ibec chief economist Fergal O’Brien said “new restrictions on outsourcing could result in it being a bad deal for taxpayers. The interests of the service provider are being put ahead of customer needs. Ireland already has the fourth lowest level of public sector outsourcing in the OECD. This agreement will further restrict the ability of Ireland to benefit from the quality and efficiency of services that outsourcing can provide.”

However, it is most likely that the pay elements will receive the most attention in the proposed accord. These pay measures will be implemented in phases.

In 2016, staff will receive an income boost of €1,000 achieved in two tranches in January and September, by means of increasing the exemption threshold for the public service pension levy.

For those on low incomes who are unable to achieve the €1,000 increase by means of the pension levy there will be salary rises of between 1 and 2.5 per cent to bring the rise in their earnings up to this level.

In September 2017 the salaries of those earning up to €65,000 will rise by €1,000.