Sunday 25 February 2018

Public servants pay excessive pension costs, claim union chiefs

Union leaders say public servants pay up to 17pc towards their pensions (stock photo)
Union leaders say public servants pay up to 17pc towards their pensions (stock photo)

Anne-Marie Walsh

Union leaders have claimed public servants make an "excessive" contribution of up to 17pc towards their pensions.

A row has erupted after the main employer group said public servants make modest contributions to their pensions compared to the benefits.

The claim was made in a submission by Ibec to the Public Service Pay Commission, which will advise the Government on its pay policy. But in a new submission to the commission in response to Ibec's claims, seen by the Irish Independent, the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) refuted this and claimed public servants pay over the odds.

It said under the Lansdowne Road Agreement a pension levy brought in under emergency legislation was amended so that those earning under €28,750 did not have to pay it.

"Above that figure, staff have a total of 16.5pc or 17pc deducted from their pay under the guise of pension contributions and pension levy," it said. "This is excessive by any account."

The submission was made as the commission is due to produce its first report. It is expected to address the possibility of unwinding the emergency legislation that cut public servants' pay during the financial crisis.

Talks between the Government and unions on a deal to succeed the Lansdowne Road Agreement are expected to begin around May after the report is published. Unions will push for acceleration of pay restoration, or more pay rises, before the current Lansdowne Road Agreement runs out in September next year.

In its submission, the union leadership also takes issue with other claims by Ibec, including its analysis that there is a 12pc pay gap between the public and private sector. It said the gap ranges from almost 4pc to 6pc for men and from 2pc to almost 13pc for women.

The union leaders said in the case of women, their higher pay may reflect a "better general equality pay regime" compared with the private sector.

It disputes claims that Irish public service workers are very well paid compared with state workers across Europe.

The public sector committee said the "modest scale" of the Lansdowne Road Agreement means the great bulk of the Fempi emergency cuts remains in place.

Irish Independent

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