Wednesday 24 January 2018

Union vows to reverse wage cuts and levy on pension

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

THE largest public sector union has told members the Government is willing to "review" their pay cuts during new talks but it is "vital" they continue industrial action.

As discussions began yesterday, a bulletin to IMPACT members also revealed unions aim to reverse the pension levy as well as the €1bn Budget pay cut during negotiations.

The dispatch to the union's 60,000 members also reveals management singled out reforms including redeployment -- or moving employees within the public and civil service -- as its "main priority".

It was sent as talks between management and sectors of the public service, chaired by Labour Relations Commission mediators, began yesterday with a civil service meeting.


The negotiations are expected to centre on a deal that will mean "pay" is traded for "change", or a gradual reversal of the pay cut in return for major public sector reforms.

According to the IMPACT message, management has indicated it is willing to discuss pay cuts but emphasised its financial constraints.

"Management described the budgetary situation as "extremely serious," but said it was "willing to review the pay cuts within the context of the budgetary situation".

IMPACT General Secretary Peter McLoone said the campaign of industrial action had played a major part in bringing the employers back to the negotiating table. "It is vital that all our members ensure that the action continues to be effective on the ground," he said.

The letter said unions agreed not to escalate industrial action while the talks were under way.

But it said unions had insisted that the existing industrial action would remain in place.

The letter said if talks did not produce an agreement that could be put to members in a ballot, there would be an escalation of industrial action. It said this would include rolling two-hour work stoppages.

Mr McLoone said the union's core objectives were:

  • Restoring the pay scales over time and reversing the so-called 'pension levy', equal to a 14pc cut in gross incomes.
  • The need for certainty that there will be no further public service pay cuts.
  • The protection of pensions.
  • The avoidance of compulsory redundancies.
  • Dealing with the consequences of the recruitment and promotions moratorium.
  • The need for an agreed approach to any management proposals for outsourcing.

"The public service transformation proposals, put forward by the unions and rejected by Government last December, could be back on the table if the Government was prepared to say pay cuts could be reversed over time as savings are made through transformation," he added.

The talks will continue today with meetings of unions and management in the health and education sectors.

Irish Independent

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