Public service pay increase deal to be formally ratified

Public servants to receive €2,000 in three phases under Lansdowne Road agreement

Lansdowne House in Ballsbridge, Dublin, where a new public sector pay deal was agreed. File Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Lansdowne House in Ballsbridge, Dublin, where a new public sector pay deal was agreed. File Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

 

The Lansdowne Road agreement, which provides for pay increases for nearly 300,000 staff in the public service, will be formally ratified today.

The public service committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu)will back the accord based on the results of ballots of members in affiliated unions.

The deal, which was negotiated in May, was supported by members of most of the country’s large unions such as Siptu, Impact, the Irish National Teachers Organisation and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

Members of some unions - largely representing higher-paid groups such as senior civil servants, doctors and vets - have opposed the deal in ballots held over recent months.

However these unions have largely indicated that they will accept the majority decision of the public services committee of Ictu.

As Ictu rules provide for the ultimate decision to be made on an aggregate basis, the Lansdowne deal cannot be numerically defeated when the public services committee meets today given the support it has from the larger affiliated organisations.

There are, however, some question marks over the position of the large teaching unions, ASTI and TUI, neither of whom will have ballots completed on the deal until next month.

The TUI has already stated that if its members vote against the Lansdowne Road accord, it will not be bound by the majority decision of the public services committee of Ictu on the issue.

The ASTI said that it had made no decision yet on whether it would be bound by the majority Ictu stance if its members voted against the agreement.

The Lansdowne Road agreement will cost € 566 million and will take over three years to implement.

The deal provides for about € 2,000 to be paid to a majority of public servants in 3 phases, through a combination of flat- rate adjustments to the pension levy and a partial reversal of pay cuts introduced in 2010.

The phased increases in earnings for staff will be put in place between January 2016 and September 2017.

However, when the deal was being negotiated, the Government decided at the 11th hour to drop plans in an original draft for a € 1,000 pay hike for those deemed to be higher earners scheduled for 2017.

This increase will only now apply to those earning less than € 65,000.

However in a separate development that only emerged after the deal was announced, public servants earning above € 100,000 a year will have put cuts imposed under the 2013 Haddington Road agreement restored over three phases, beginning in 2017.

Under a parallel strand to the agreement most retired public service staff are to receive about € 1,680 more in their pensions over the next three years as part of a pension restoration initiative.

Pension reductions introduced under financial emergency legislation over recent years will be removed entirely for 65,000 public servants by 2018.

Under the Lansdowne Road deal unions have reaffirmed their commitment to resolving disputes in the public service by peaceful means.

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”.

The deal also tightens dispute resolution mechanisms.

The 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 also 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.