Business Irish

Tuesday 30 September 2014

The 'unbaptised child' in the family of wage agreements

Senan Molony Deputy Political Editor

Published 18/09/2008 | 00:00

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Call it "PHEW!" -- the Programme for Helping Embattled Workers -- but the new national wage agreement does not have an official name.

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Government sources joked last night that it was "an unbaptised child," and even invited suggestions. But the deal is likely to remain without an official title, other than it being the "second module" in the over-arching 'Towards 2016' deal.

The first module has already run out. It was concluded in June 2006, with pay terms worth a cumulative 10.4pc to this point. If module 2 were to be regarded as a national wage agreement in its own right, it would become the eighth such deal hammered out by unions, employers and the Government.

The 'Irish model' has been adopted by a number of European countries, particular newly-emerging Eastern states.

The first national pay deal in Ireland was reached by the social partners in 1987 when then Taoiseach Charles Haughey appealed for national unity in the face of a worsening economy.

The Programme for National Recovery, as it was called, ran for three years, expiring at the end of 1990. The successor deal, during more economically optimistic time, the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, was relatively easy to achieve and ran from 1991 to 1994. Thereafter a two-year deal was concluded for the first time as the international outlook became more clouded.

Nonetheless, the Programme for Competitiveness and Work was deemed a success, with the Government matching nominal increases by employers with tax cuts for economic stimulation.

Partnership 2000 took us from 1997 to the turn of the century, with a major emphasis on "inclusion." From 2000 to 2003 came the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness which overlapped with the changeover to the euro.

The sixth pay deal "Sustaining Progress," introduced us to significant deadlock and late-night negotiation in the course of its gestation. The industrial wrangling has continued since then, with particular angst caused by persistently high Irish inflation since the year 2001.

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