Unions want pay rises for new public service staff dealt with in budget

Government says €200m needed to tackle two-tier pay system not available until 2020

Tom Geraghty, joint general secretary of Fórsa. He  said Ireland’s strengthening exchequer recovery means it is possible to deal with the pay issue earlier. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Tom Geraghty, joint general secretary of Fórsa. He said Ireland’s strengthening exchequer recovery means it is possible to deal with the pay issue earlier. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Public service unions want the Government to bring forward to next year the provision of increased pay for newer entrants to the public service.

The move would mean a departure from the terms of the public service agreement negotiated in 2017, and would, if implemented, see staff recruited since 2011 receive more money up to two years earlier than anticipated.

The Government has maintained that while an examination of the controversial two-tier pay system for some State employees would take place under the terms of the current public service agreement, no funding to address the issue would be allocated until after 2020.

However, Tom Geraghty, joint general secretary of Fórsa , the country’s largest public service union, said on Friday that the public service staff concerned could not wait until the agreement expired at the end of 2020 “to resolve something so fundamentally unfair”.

“While it is correct to say that no monies have been allocated to do this in 2018, I believe that Ireland’s strengthening economic and exchequer recovery means it should be possible to start funding it next year rather than delaying until 2020 or beyond. That would require funds to be allocated in October’s budget,” Mr Geraghty told the union’s Civil Service divisional conference in Killarney.

About 60,000 public service personnel recruited since January 2011 currently are paid less than colleagues who were hired before that date under the controversial two-tier remuneration system.

A Government report published in March forecast it would cost about €200 million per year to end this two-tier pay system.

Key figure

Talks between the Government and public service unions on the issue are to commence next Friday. Mr Geraghty, who is also secretary of the overall public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, will be a key figure in the talks.

Mr Geraghty said next week’s discussions would focus on equalising the length of pay scales. He said this would mean exploring the technical challenges presented by the fact that the length of pay scales varied widely across the civil and public service.

Trade unions have indicated they will want to ensure that any solution is fair to all new entrants regardless of how long they have been employed.

Mr Geraghty told the conference that pay equity was a priority for all unions. “The imposition of two-tier pay scales, which were 10 per cent lower at each point for new staff, were imposed in January 2011. They were among the many cuts, including pay cuts averaging 14 per cent for all civil and public servants, imposed without agreement by the then government in 2009-2010.”