Siptu to take part in public service deals only if two-tier pay abolished

Talks between Government and unions on lower-pay arrangements to start on Friday

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell: “Our members don’t expect a big bang solution to this issue.” File photograph: Eric Luke

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell: “Our members don’t expect a big bang solution to this issue.” File photograph: Eric Luke

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The country’s largest trade union has said it will not be party to a new public service agreement unless the Government moves to end the two-tier arrangement which sees those appointed after 2011 paid less than more longer-serving colleagues.

The Government and public service trade unions will commence talks on Friday on the two-tier system of pay across the public service.

The Government had previously stated that while a review of this arrangement could take place, there would be no funding to end the two-tier system before the end of 2020 when the current public service pay deal expires.

However, it now seems likely that the Government is prepared to accelerate the ending of this pay system although when and how this will take place remains to be finalised.

Last Friday, the Fórsa public service union said members could not wait until after 2020 “to resolve something so fundamentally unfair”. It said it wanted funding to be allocated in the budget next October to tackle the issue of lower pay for newer entrants to the public service.

We will continue to work with all parties to make sure a fair and equitable balance is struck, that leaves no worker in the public service behind

Earlier this month, the annual conferences of the three main teachers’ unions backed motions calling for potential strike action unless the Government committed by May to abolishing two-tier pay for newer entrants.

‘Equitable solution’

In a statement on Thursday the country’s largest union, Siptu, said it wanted an “equitable solution to pay inequality for new entrants to the public service”.

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell said: “Our members don’t expect a big bang solution to this issue. However, they do expect the presentation of concrete proposals that outline a clear road map towards the ending this pay injustice.”

“We will continue to work with all parties to make sure a fair and equitable balance is struck, that leaves no worker in the public service behind, while also ensuring that the lowest paid are given priority.”

He said Siptu had made it clear that the union would not be party to any successor to the current public service agreement unless the lower pay rates for more recent entrants were abolished.

New talks

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform declined to comment on the new talks process on Thursday.

A report drawn up by the department in March said there were about 60,000 staff across the public service affected by the two-tier pay system or nearly 20 per cent of the workforce.

It forecast ending the two-tier system would cost about €200 million.

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