Wednesday 20 September 2017

Impact recommends government's new pay deal to its 60,000 members

Bernard Harbor Picture: Steve Humphreys
Bernard Harbor Picture: Steve Humphreys

Anne-Marie Walsh

THE government's new pay deal has got a boost following a week of negative reaction after the main public sector union recommended it to its 60,000 members.

Most unions' executive bodies have so far given it a thumbs down despite the fact that it would give most public servants a pay boost of over 7pc by 2020.

But Impact bucked the trend by unanimously recommending the proposed agreement at a meeting of its Central Executive Committee this afternoon.

It will begin balloting its members on the deal that will cost €1.1bn - in pay rises and easing a pensions levy - over four years next week.

The deal was agreed in the early hours last Thursday morning at the Workplace Relations Commission but must be balloted on by union members to come into force.

As well as pay rises, it reduces the impact of the pension levy although part of the levy will be kept in place for most public servants as a new higher permanent pension contribution.

Siptu's decision on whether to recommend the deal will be pivotal and its National Executive Committee will make a decision on the deal on Thursday week.

It has the biggest public sector union membership of 80,000 and without its backing or Impact's, the draft deal will be doomed.

Read More: 'Nobody is doing high-fives' - trade union plays down deal as public servants set for pay boost of up to 10pc

Impact's recommendation that it is the "best deal available" comes on the same day as the government backed it at a cabinet meeting.

Union spokesperson Bernard Harbor said all pay lost through Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest legislation would be restored to more than 90pc of public servants under the deal.

The rest would see full pay restoration within a further two years.

And it will also mean pay increases for lower paid staff currently earning less than €28,500, who have already exited the emergency legislation.

"It will also preserve the value of public service pensions, while taking almost a quarter of public servants out of Fempi pension levy provisions by 2020," said Mr Harbor.

He said 73pc would make gains of 7pc or more over the lifetime of the agreement, in line with the best pay deals in the private sector.

Mr Harbor said it would preserve protections against outsourcing and provided an avenue to address issues like unequal pay for new entrants.

Read More: Unions are probably doing cartwheels in private after jumping at the offer tabled

The issue of pay equality had led to teacher unions including the INTO and TUI denouncing the deal.

"Impact will use these new mechanisms to address recruitment and retention problems among a range of public service grades including health and social care professionals and various civil service professional grades," he said.

"And we will use the process for dealing with new entrants’ pay to address inequities being experienced by health professionals, low paid staff like special needs assistants and clerical officers, and many others."

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