Friday 18 January 2019

Union leader demands pay rises in next budget for new public servants

Tom Geraghty. Photo: Frank McGrath
Tom Geraghty. Photo: Frank McGrath

Industry Correspondent

A SENIOR union negotiator has urged the government to put money aside in the next budget for pay rises for new recruits to the public sector.

Senior Fórsa leader, Tom Geraghty, said it should find funds to reverse pay cuts for new entrants next year.

Reversing the cuts would cost over €200m.

Under the current 'stability' pay deal, a review of issue is due to take place by the end of the year but should not push up costs before the deal runs out in 2020.

The agreement says the outcome should "not give rise to implications for the fiscal envelope of this agreement".

Mr Geraghty is on a team of union leaders who are due to meet senior Department of Public Expenditure and Reform officials to discuss the issue next Friday.

He accepted there is no money budgeted to reverse the cuts next year but still believes it is possible to get the funding together.

"While it is correct to say that no monies have been allocated to do this in 2018, I believe that Ireland’s strengthening economic and exchequer recovery means it should be possible to start funding it next year, rather than delaying until 2020 or beyond," he said.

"That would require funds to be allocated in October’s budget."

He said it should do this by shortening their pay scales, which are longer than their colleagues.

They must work for two years on rates that are 10pc lower before they join their longer-serving colleagues' pay scale.

"We returned to the issue in the talks on the current public service pay deal and, because of this, we will again be negotiating with Department of Public Expenditure and Reform officials next week, with the aim of equalising the length of pay scales.

"As well as dealing with the technical challenges of doing this fairly, in a way that works for public servants with different lengths of service – and pay scales of vastly different lengths – we will press for the scales to be shortened as quickly as possible," he said.

New entrants pay was cut by 10pc across the board for those who joined after January 2011.

The cuts were reversed to a large extent under a later pay deal but the first two points on pay scales are at a lower rate than new entrants' longer-serving colleagues.

This means it takes them two years longer to get to the top of their pay scale.

Over 60,500 new entrants, or 19pc of the workforce, have joined since then.

A recent report by Minister Paschal Donohoe's Department of Public Expenditure and Reform showed there had been strong recruitment since 2011 despite the lower pay rates.

It said the costs the would come from axing two points in the salary scale would amount to €200m.

This would equal an extra €3,301 on average per public servant, on top of existing pay rises due under the current pay deal between 6pc and 10pc.

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