Plan to restore senior public sector pay must be honoured, says IMO

Consultants ‘dismayed’ by reports that Government may defer pay cut reversals

Representatives of hospital consultants have told the Government that it must honour plans to restore pay of senior public sector workers.

The intervention from the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) comes after it emerged earlier this week that pay rises for senior public servants due to take place in July are in doubt.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath is to review top-level pay in the public service, and he will be establishing an independent review group to examine the process for appointing top public servants and their salaries.

The Irish Times reported on Thursday that as well as looking at how posts are filled, the new group will examine how more private sector applicants can be attracted to senior roles in the civil and public service.


Sources said the process is likely to have implications for the final reversal of the austerity-era cuts for top earners in the civil and public service, due on July 1st.

Under the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017, those earning more than €150,000 are due the final phase of pay restoration on that date.

The increases in salary due then are understood to be between 10 and 15 per cent.

There is concern in Government that the measure could lead to a public outcry and sources said the Minister would examine “options he has to adopt a revised approach to this issue” – though it remains for now a legal obligation.

Other public servants have already seen their salaries restored to pre-austerity levels.

The IMO on Friday warned the Government that it “must fully honour all the terms of the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017, and the Building Momentum national pay agreement, including the reversal of the final phase of pay cuts imposed during the period of austerity”.

It said it was “dismayed” at reports that the Government is considering changing the schedule as part of a broader review of pay in the public service.

‘Urgent meeting’

The IMO is to seek an “urgent meeting” with Mr McGrath and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to discuss the issue.

Dr Clive Kilgallen, chairman of the consultant committee of the IMO, said that a failure to honour agreements on these lines would "confirm the views of many consultants that Ireland is simply not interested in their skills and expertise, that healthcare management cannot be trusted, and that any agreement is simply not worth the paper on which it is printed".

He also said, “We are in the middle of the worst consultant workforce crisis in the history of the State” and that there are “dangerous numbers of patients waiting for treatment and over 700 vacant consultant posts, yet the Government continue to target the very people we need to deliver expert care to patients”.

Dr Kilgallen claimed the latest reports “just reinforce the impression that Government’s intention is to bully and manipulate those who are required to lead in healthcare delivery rather than empower them to lead as in more successful healthcare systems”.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform declined to comment.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times