Siptu and the INTO row in behind new public pay deal

Mid-ranking gardaí and military officers say they were excluded from talks on agreement

The prospect of the proposed new public service pay agreement being ratified has received a boost after members of two of the largest unions in the State sector backed the deal in ballots.

Siptu, which represents about 60,000 public service personnel, said its members voted in favour of the proposed accord by 91 per cent to 9.

Primary school teachers who are members of the INTO supported the proposed agreement by more than 80 per cent.

A decision on whether to ratify the agreement will be made later this month by the public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions based on aggregate results of the ballots of affiliated organisations. As part of this process, the unions representing larger numbers of members are given a greater weighting.

However, organisations representing public service staff who are outside of the trade union movement have strongly argued they were left out of the final stages of the talks which led to the proposed new public service deal.

The INTO, which had urged its 42,600 members in the Republic of Ireland to back the deal, said it addressed several priority issues such as remuneration for recent entrants, general pay rises and allowances for principals and deputy principals.

INTO general secretary John Boyle said: "For 10 years, pay equality has been the key priority for this union, with members showing incredible solidarity and support for their colleagues who entered the profession since 2011. In incremental steps, this agreement and its predecessors have finally ended future career earnings' losses and have restored pay equality, our agreed objective set by our members."

Siptu said that apart from general pay rises the new deal also contained a commitment to reduce working hours as well as protections on public service outsourcing and the restoration of overtime rates and twilight premiums for workers in the health service.

Talks process criticised

Meanwhile, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) said on Thursday it had made a formal complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission at being excluded from the final phase of talks on the proposed agreement last December. The AGSI said gardaí had no say in how the deal was put together.

Commissioned officers in the Defence Forces have also strongly criticised their exclusion from the final rounds of talks .

The Department of Public Expenditure said it considered that the AGSI was, alongside other unions, “significantly involved” in the negotiation process leading to the proposed agreement.

The AGSI has lodged an official complaint with the oversight body at the commission over its exclusion from final pay deal negotiations.It said it was not consulted during the final stages of negotiations of the proposed agreement.

Association general secretary Antoinette Cunningham said: "AGSI were left with no option but to make the complaint as previous undertakings given in relation to how gardaí would negotiate their pay have been broken."

AGSI said the complaint did not relate to money or the pay terms in the proposed new agreement but to its right “to negotiate our own Garda pay on behalf of sergeants and inspectors”.

Ms Cunningham said: "Negotiations, it would appear, were conducted by a small, key group of people which did not include any representatives from An Garda Síochána and effectively a deal was done behind closed doors and presented as a fait accompli to AGSI."

Separately, the association representing commissioned officers in the Defence Forces, Raco, is also unhappy that it was left out of final negotiations on the pay agreement.

Raco told members this week that it had not received any clarifications on a number of matters it had raised including commitments on the high level implementation plan for the Defence Forces which were not dealt with in the talks process as well and other issues such as dispute resolution, revised pay scales and specialised instructor allowances.

The proposed new agreement provides for a 1 per cent pay rise in October 2021 and a further 1 per cent rise in October 2022.

There is also another pool of money, equivalent to a further 1 per cent pay increase, being set aside to deal with issues, pay claims or outstanding awards in particular parts of the public service.

On Wednesday second-level teachers represented by the trade union ASTI decisively rejected the proposed agreement in a ballot of members.

A third education trade union, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland, has strongly recommended to members that they reject the proposed agreement. It has not yet finalised arrangements for its ballot.

Other large public service unions such as Fórsa and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation have urged members to support the deal.