No public pay increases next year

Rises to be dealt with in 2016 budget, says Howlin

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin  said there was no provision in Budget 2015 to meet any rise in public service salaries.  Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said there was no provision in Budget 2015 to meet any rise in public service salaries. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

There will be no pay increases for staff in the public service next year, with Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin saying any pay rises will be a matter for the 2016 budget.

Mr Howlin said there was no provision in Budget 2015 to meet any rise in public service salaries.

Technically, the issue of public service pay is settled until the summer of 2016 under the terms of the Haddington Road agreement which came into effect in July last year.

In reality, talks on public service pay are expected to get under way between the Government and public service unions next year.

However, it appears funding for any increases or restoration in public service pay levels will not be available until the budget in October of next year.

Negotiations

Mr Howlin has signalled over recent months that the Government will be seeking next year to unwind the financial emergency legislation under which a series of pay reductions have been put in place for 300,000 staff in the public service since 2009.

Public sector unions have separately indicated that if the current growth figures continue, they will be lodging a pay claim next year.

Mr Howlin said negotiations on the restoration of some pay and pension cuts implemented during the crisis would not take effect until 2016.

“I am very conscious that a number of the measures that reduced the public sector pay bill were enshrined in Fempi, the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest, legislation,” Mr Howlin said.

“They have to be unwound because they are, by their nature, emergency legislation and I have to bring an annual report to say that emergency is continuing.

“Now, the day will come when it won’t and I want to have an orderly wind down of those measures and I want to do that in negotiation with the public service unions.”

Productivity

Union leaders have said that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions had informed the Government during the Haddington Road talks it reserved the right to lodge a pay claim in the lifetime of the deal if circumstances permitted.

Given the rapid recovery in the economy over recent months, it seems likely that this proposed pay claim could be lodged no later than the start of the union conference season at Easter next year.

Informed sources have suggested talks between unions and the Government would get under way subsequently and be finalised in the early autumn in advance of next year’s budget.

Mr Howlin told the Dáil last week that the exchequer pay bill had been reduced from a peak of €17.5 billion gross at the onset of the recession to €14.2 billion net of the pension-related deduction in 2013. He said there would be a further substantial reduction this year. Pay and pension reductions, together with substantial productivity improvements, have been facilitated by a series of legislative enactments by this Government and its predecessor – the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts 2009-2013, supported by the Croke Park agreement and, more importantly, the Haddington Road agreement.

Mr Howlin has said the powers granted under Fempi are “are temporary in nature and are predicated on the presence of the financial emergency”.