Wednesday 13 December 2017

New public sector pay deal imminent as ‘substantial progress made overnight’

Brendan Howlin
Brendan Howlin

Fiach Kelly and Fionnan Sheahan

NEGOTIATIONS on a final deal on public sector pay have finished and the draft agreement will be considered by trade unions later today.

Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin has left the talks in Dublin to brief the Economic Management Council on the outline agreement.

The agreement document has been finalised by the Labour Relations Commission, and will be considered by individual unions this afternoon.

"They are a set of proposals which reach the targets we have set out," Mr Howlin said.

Mr Howlin did not give any detail on the deal but said it will be the last time public sector workers will be hit during the lifetime of this Government.

The negotiations on an extension to the Croke Park Agreement continued through the night, despite a walkout by four unions.

Mr Howlin arrived at the venue for the talks, Lansdowne House in Dublin 4, early this morning.

A spokesman for the Government said: "Substantial progress has been made overnight. What is being discussed is a broad arrangement on order to ensure that impact is distributed as fairly as possibly across all public sector workers.

"All parties are engaged to see if outstanding matters can be resolved and agreement reached. Minister Howlin has been clear from the outset that he wanted this deal to be as fair and equitable as possible with a contribution from every public servant of every type across every sector in the context of the severe economic pressures that the state is facing."

Under the deal, the Government plans to introduce substantial pay cuts for public servants earning over €65,000 in a move that is non-negotiable, unions have been told.

Details of the cut-off point for the wage reductions emerged as four unions last night staged a walkout from talks on a new Croke Park deal, saying they could not sign up to the proposals on the table.

But the dramatic 11th-hour exit was not a fatal blow to the negotiations.

The talks went on after the departures of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), the Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU) and UNITE.

Government sources remained confident that agreement would be reached as long as larger unions, such as SIPTU, IMPACT and the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) stayed at the table.

The Irish Independent has learned a key part of the emerging deal would see state employees earning more than €65,000 facing cuts. Although the extent of the wage cuts was still being decided, sources indicated that it could be in the region of 5pc-10pc.

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