Monday 20 November 2017

Warning of more pay claims amid fat cat 'bonus culture' in agencies

Kieran Mulvey Photo: Tom Burke
Kieran Mulvey Photo: Tom Burke
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The country's most senior industrial relations official has warned of the potential for workplace chaos as unions representing public and private sector employees gear up for pay claims.

Kieran Mulvey, the director general of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), said the situation was not helped by the fact some State agencies still have a bonus culture.

Mr Mulvey warned industrial peace "is imperative if we are to manage successfully our economic recovery".

But he said the industrial relations climate was beginning to resemble the 1970s and the 1980s following a succession of disputes involving Luas, Dart, An Post and HSE workers.

Mr Mulvey is writing in today's Irish Independent as train drivers seek a pay increase of up to 25pc following a proposed pay hike for Luas drivers.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) wrote to Irish Rail demanding a deal to cut their wages, due to be in place until October, is lifted.

The union is also seeking a 6pc payment and an increase in line with "industry norms" which they claim is between 8pc and 18pc.

Some members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) in the HSE run Cregg House, Sligo, have also voted to take industrial action.

Mr Mulvey said the WRC was "beginning to take on the look of an industrial relations emergency department" such is the number of disputes.

He said that since last October, when the new WRC was established, it had received 5,200 requests for employment rights investigations or adjudications.

Mr Mulvey said: "After seven years of wage famine and increased taxation there is a growing expectation among employees in both private and public sectors for increases in take home pay.

"Talk and evidence of some economic recovery in certain sectors fuel these demands."

He warned the recovery was fragile and the absence of a national bargaining structure and agreed "ground rules" for wage negotiation was unhelpful in the current situation.

Irish Independent

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