Wednesday 23 January 2019

Public servants asked to pay more for pensions as Government pledges pay cuts will be refunded

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe Photo: Tom Burke
Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe Photo: Tom Burke

Anne-Marie Walsh

The government has asked public servants to pay more for their pensions but will refund pay cuts imposed under emergency legislation in a new deal.

Sources at talks on a deal to extend the Lansdowne Road Agreement said government officials said they would convert a €720m pension levy already being paid into a higher permanent contribution.

But government officials also indicated that the new deal -likely to run until 2021 - will include the rollback of Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest legislation.

A full €1.4bn of cuts remain under the legislation but it is unclear yet if the government will completely unwind it.

Sources said officials also indicated there would be some pay rises for lower paid workers who have already exited the legislation.

But there are still major stumbling blocks to a deal after Siptu this morning warned that "the elephant in the room" is a €4,000 special deal given to gardaí before Christmas.

It said tensions are high at the talks that have entered their second week and warned that officials from Minister Paschal Donohoe's expenditure department better get more creative.

It tweeted that officials needed to do this rather "than rehashing demands for stuff unions refused to concede at the height of the crisis".

Unions estimate that their members are owed a further €600 to match what gardaí got in a €50m package to call off strike action.

They already won roughly €400 each under a €120m pay deal in the wake of the garda award.

The talks today are focusing on pay, pensions, and the recruitment and retention of health staff.

Last week, the government's opening pitch included a demand to make thousands of public sector workers do Saturday shifts without extra payments.

Siptu said it also pursued an outsourcing agenda that is "not fit for ballot".

"SIPTU representatives made it clear to management we will not give a millimetre on outsourcing," the union tweeted.

It said week one of the talks was dominated by unions resisting a management productivity agenda "which seems designed to reduce incomes".

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