Trade unions call for review of current public service pay deal

Previous pay agreement has not kept pace with inflation, Fórsa trade union head says

Trade unions should trigger a review of the current public service pay agreement, due to the recent sharp rises in inflation, a senior trade union official has said.

Kevin Callinan, general secretary of Fórsa, the State's largest public service union, said sustained inflation was grounds to review the pay increases in the current Building Momentum deal, which was agreed in December 2020.

The current agreement sets out a maximum pay increase this year of 1.2 per cent for public service workers.

Mr Callinan, who is also chair of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) public services committee, said the cost of living was “continuing to soar” in the meantime.

The current deal states that pay increases above what had been agreed could not be considered, unless the “assumptions” underlying the agreement needed to be revisited.

Mr Callinan said he will bring a recommendation to the Annual General Meeting of Ictu’s public services committee on Friday to trigger this clause of the agreement.

“With the cost of living continuing to soar, it’s time to trigger the Building Momentum review clause,” he said

He said inflation had reached its highest level in more than two decades. “It’s also clear that the cost of living is on an upward trajectory, despite earlier hopes that prices would stabilise and fall,” he said.

There was “no assumption of the high and sustained cost-of-living increases” when the current pay agreement was negotiated in late 2020, he said.

“Meanwhile, the public finances are in surplus, and both the unemployment rate and the projected deficit are much lower than anticipated at the time Building Momentum was negotiated and accepted by public servants in ballots,” he said.

Mr Callinan said he had raised these concerns in a recent meeting with Government figures, where he had also sought confirmation that talks to negotiate a successor public service agreement would begin as planned in May.

The Government is currently considering a separate recommendation from an independent body, to restore public servants working hours to pre-Haddington Road Agreement levels.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times

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