Public pay deal to secure industrial peace, says Donohoe

Varadkar welcomes agreement which he says improves pay in affordable way

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar with Pascal Donohoe. Mr Donohoe will now bring the public pay proposals to Government for approval. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar with Pascal Donohoe. Mr Donohoe will now bring the public pay proposals to Government for approval. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar welcomed the draft public service pay agreement which he said gives State employees improved pay in an affordable way but also leaves scope to better services for citizens.

He said the pay deal reduced the scope for additional spending next year but added that the budget would still allow for “some reductions in taxation for working families and as well as that some room for improvement in public services and capital expenditure.”

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe, who kept Mr Varadkar briefed on the talks with trade unions, said the draft deal awarded pay increases in an affordable manner.

He added that it put pension provision “on a more sustainable footing” and would also “secure industrial peace so that our public service remains a rewarding place for those who work in it and continues to deliver for those who depend on it”.

Mr Donohoe will now bring the proposals to Government for approval.

The main opposition parties welcomed aspects of the proposed deals but argued that more could have been done in other areas.

Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane welcomed the unwinding of the emergency pay cuts as part of the deal but said it had not fully addressed the anomaly where those doing equal work were not getting equal pay.

“This is the issue that drove a lot of the industrial unrest last year,” he said. “The two-tier pay structure may be ameliorated somewhat by this agreement, but nonetheless it will still exist.”

Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary echoed Mr Cullinane’s comments on equal pay, but welcomed pay restoration commitments for those earning under €70,000, which he said reflected his party’s view.

“It’s difficult to see how this issue can be properly addressed given the current financial constraints but efforts must be made to bring newer workers in line with their colleagues.”

Mr Calleary also criticised the measures proposed to address staff retention in key sectors such as health, defence, and education. He argued that the issue could not be properly addressed until 2018 under this agreement. “To me that lacks a great deal of urgency,” he said.