Wednesday 17 January 2018

Fire fighters spark pay claims

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Local authority fire fighters might have secured an effective pay rise last week, but their colleagues in the public sector will have to fight to restore perks and allowances that were cut during the bust.

In a deal that was heralded as marking the end of the two-tier public service pay system, recently recruited fire fighters won back a €4,500 rent allowance that was scrapped in 2012.

The deal will close the yawning pay gap between long-standing fire fighters and the 90 or so recruited since 2012.

It will also put the new Government under pressure from unions to restore the austerity-era cuts and put new recruits on the same wages as their longer-serving colleagues.

Public sector unions have already won back increases of up to €2,000 over two years for civil servants in a deal struck with the Government. Last week's agreement with the fire fighters prompted the unions to renew their efforts.

The Garda Representative Association, which counts 10,500 rank and file members, called for the reinstatement of a rent allowance of €4,017 and a pre-2008 salary of €25,745.

The primary teachers union, the INTO, contacted both the departments of Education and Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) this week "to express the view that [the fire fighters' agreement] is a helpful precedent that can assist in the resolution of new entrant teacher pay."

In a statement this weekend, DPER said the fire fighters' agreement was predicated on "delivery of substantial workplace change and productivity" - it was not aware of talks "along those bases" going on between other public service employers or unions.

Not yet any way. The new Government will be greeted with a chorus of escalating demands from unions and the dance is only beginning.

Sunday Independent

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