Wednesday 22 November 2017

'Nobody is doing high-fives' - trade union plays down deal as public servants set for pay boost of up to 10pc

  • Public servant pay deal brokered in the early hours of this morning
  • Deal will cost €880m over next three years
  • Vast majority will get pay rise of over 7pc
  • Public Expenditure Minister welcomes the proposals
  • 'Nobody is doing high-fives but we're happy' - Impact
IMPACT Spokesperson Bernard Harbor
IMPACT Spokesperson Bernard Harbor

Anne-Marie Walsh

"Nobody is doing high-fives," a trade union spokesperson said after a deal brokered overnight will see public servants set for a pay boost of up to 10pc over the next three years.

The draft deal to extend the Lansdowne Road Agreement that will run from January 1 next year to December 31 2020 was brokered in the early hours this morning.

Under the terms of the deal, the vast majority of the country's 300,000 public servants will enjoy an increase in their pay worth over 7pc.

Head of Communications at Impact, Bernard Harbor, said this morning that "over 90pc of public servants will get full restoration of pay over the three-year period."

Speaking to Newstalk's Breakfast, he said; "About 25pc will exit fully from the pension level and most will have a reduction in the pension levy.

"The deal looks at pay and other issues... and the negotiation is about trying to find the balance between the different needs.

Stock photo
Stock photo

"Nobody is doing high-fives about the deal but I think it is the best we could have achieved.

"In the coming weeks we will put the deal to our members and vote on it."

The pay boost is at an estimated cost of €880m over the next three years, but €1.1bn over four years when a "carry-over effect" is taken into effect, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Expenditure said. 

As part of the deal, roughly 50,000 newer recruits who joined the workforce since 2013 will see their wages rise by up to 10pc.

#HaveYourSay: Can the country afford €880m in a public sector pay boost?

(Stock photo)

Under the terms of the deal, the vast majority of the country's 300,000 public servants will enjoy an increase in their pay worth over 7pc

Their salaries will increase through a combination of pay rises and reductions in a pension levy imposed under emergency legislation during the financial crisis.

State workers will have to make a higher permanent pension contribution on top of their existing contribution towards the €3.3bn a year bill - which will not come into force until January 2019.

No one will pay more than they already do in a pension levy that was imposed under emergency legislation, which will be converted into the new contribution.

The deal means that 90pc of public servants will be out of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest legislation by 2020 and almost a quarter will no longer make pension levy payments.

A total of 73pc of public servants will see their wages rise by over 7pc within three years.

The pay and pension levy changes are worth 7.4pc to those earning €30,000 a year or less, 7pc to those earning between €50,000 and €55,000 a year, and between 6.6pc and 6.9pc for those earning between €55,000 and €80,000 a year.

A worker who joined before 2013 earning between €60,000 and €65,000 would benefit by €4,247 over the course of the deal.

Under the terms of the draft agreement, which unions and staff associations will now put to ballot:

Pay rises will be given on:

2018

* January 1, 1pc pay rise

*October 1, 1pc pay rise

2019

*January 1, pay rise of 1pc for those earning below €30,000

*September 1, pay rise of 1.75pc

2020

*January 1, pay rise of 0.5pc for those earning below €32,000

*October 1, pay rise of 2pc

A three-tier extra pension contribution system will be set up that means:

*The 23,000 public servants in gold-plated 'fast accrual' schemes including politicians, judges, members of the defence forces and prison officers will have to keep paying the same pension levy contribution they currently do.

*The 253,000 public servants who joined before 2013 will pay a contribution that is less than they currently do in levy payments by increasing the threshold at which they start to pay.

*Those who joined after 2013 and are in a less generous scheme will pay even less of the current levy in a new contribution through an increase in the threshold and lower rates.

The government rowed back on a number of measures to get more productivity from its employees, with a plan to extend Saturday working scrapped.

It also agreed it would not weaken protections for workers in relation to out-sourcing that it had proposed.

A clause in an earlier draft to refuse to give back-payments of pay rises to staff who did not sign up to the deal was dropped.

It also accepted that pensions should continue to increase when someone in a pensioner's old job got a pay rise.

However, it held firm on other issues including the retention of 15 million unpaid hours, which Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe had insisted was a red-line issue.

Staff could opt not to work the hours but will suffer an equivalent pay cut to reflect this.

The draft deal keeps lower pay rates for recruits starting out in place, although a process to examine this is to be set up within 12 months of the start of the deal.

It gives no commitment to groups, including nurses, to pay increases as a result of recruitment and retention issues but agreed to set up a process to examine these issues.

Speaking as they left the Workplace Relations Commission, there was disappointment among some unions that issues including equal pay for recruits had not been addressed.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe has welcomed the proposals issued by the Workplace Relations Commission.

He paid tribute to his officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, union representatives and staff at the WRC, for their extensive work at the Commission.

"These proposals aim to award pay increases for public service staff across the coming years in line with what is affordable to the State, put pension provision on a more sustainable footing and secure industrial peace so that our public service remains a rewarding place for those who work in it and continues to deliver for those who depend on it," he said.

"I will now take these proposals, which will see the Lansdowne Road Agreement extended, to Government. Arrangements will also be made to put them to ballot across the range of public service sectors to which they apply."

Head of Communications at Impact, Bernard Harper, said this morning that "over 90pc of public servants will get full restoration of pay over the three-year period."

Speaking to Newstalk's Breakfast, he said; "About 25pc will exit fully from the pension level and most will have a reduction in the pension levy.

"The deal looks at pay and other issues... and the negotiation is about trying to find the balance between the different needs.

"Nobody is doing high-fives about the deal but I think it is the best we could have achieved.

"In the coming weeks we will put the deal to our members and vote on it."

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