Saturday 19 August 2017

Donohoe will not rule out more public wage hikes

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD speaking to media about the Government's commitment to a collective approach to setting pay policy and securing the future of the Lansdowne Road Agreement at Government Buildings, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD speaking to media about the Government's commitment to a collective approach to setting pay policy and securing the future of the Lansdowne Road Agreement at Government Buildings, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Anne-Marie Walsh

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has refused to rule out extra pay rises for public servants next year.

Unions called off ballots for industrial action after Paschal Donohoe announced his department would invite them to talks on the implications of a €50m pay package for gardaí.

Mr Donohoe said he would invite public-sector union leaders to talks on the Labour Court recommendation for gardaí, and they would conclude by the end of next January.

Separately, the Government will enter talks with unions on a successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement around the middle of next year. This will follow a report by the Public Service Pay Commission on the unwinding of emergency legislation that cut pay.

It is understood that unions will now demand a deal worth about €1,500 per public servant.

That is on top of a €1,000 pay rise already due to those earning less than €65,000 next September, under the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Union clamour for pay hikes intensified after an extra €20m that was added to a €30m package for gardaí, to avert the threat of an unprecedented series of strikes earlier this month.

Unions including Siptu, the INMO and Unite had threatened to begin balloting for industrial action if the Government did not agree to talks - as the gardaí stood to get extra increases worth at least €4,000 from January

Speaking yesterday, Mr Donohoe did not rule out the possibility that the Government will pay more increases to public servants to avoid widespread industrial action.

"I'm not commenting at all in terms of what could be the outcome from any negotiation that we have," he said.

"We already have in the Lansdowne Road Agreement, a set of further wage changes that are due to take place in 2017. They are budgeted for."

He claimed the Government was still adhering to the original timetable it had outlined since budget day in relation to future agreements on public-sector pay.

He said any deals would have to be fair to not only to the public sector, but to other taxpayers and those who depended on public services.

The Government has already set aside €290m for pay rises promised under Lansdowne Road next year and may have to pay €50m for gardaí. Mr Donohoe's announcement came after unions threatened to ballot for industrial action if the Government refused to commit to talks.

Siptu general president Jack O'Connor said he would authorise ballots from tomorrow if the Government did not agree to talks by February 1.

Meanwhile, a union for lower paid civil servants gave a cautious welcome to the talks but demanded that extra hours worked for free are rolled back.

The Civil, Public and Services Union passed a motion calling for branches to consider refusing to work unpaid hours and other forms of industrial action if talks do not deliver "acceptable" pay restoration.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions' Public Services Committee said the talks would "provide a platform" to seek improvements in Lansdowne Road.

Irish Independent

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