Monday 23 October 2017

Government invites public sector unions to Lansdowne Road Agreement talks following garda pay deal

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Arthur Carron
Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Arthur Carron

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

Public sector unions are to be invited to talks with the Government on the implications for the Lansdowne Road Agreement of the recent pay deal for gardaí.

Minster Paschal Donohoe got approval from Cabinet today to start negotiations after weeks of insisting that the agreement, which runs until September 2018, cannot be altered.

The discussions will be carried out under Sector Six of the LRA which allows a group comprising representatives of Public Service Management and the Public Services Committee of the ICTU to meet as required to address any matters of implementation and interpretation in relation to the Agreement. This includes anomalies such as those arising following the Labour Court recommendation in relation to gardaí.

The discussions are expected to conclude before the end of January and “will seek to address anomalies arising from the recent recommendations issued by the Labour Court in relation to the Industrial Relations disputes with members of An Garda Síochána”.

Garda are currently balloting on a series of pay measures that will cost the Government up to €50m a year.   

The arrangement struck by the Labour Court led to a string of claims from public sector unions who believe their pay restoration should be sped up.

In a statement this afternoon, the Department of Public Expenditure said the Government still stands by the Lansdowne Road Agreement and the collective approach to pay issues.

The Minister emphasised that the priorities for Government in upcoming discussions will be to:

* secure the continued implementation of the Lansdowne Road Agreement;

* maintain the productivity, industrial peace and stability provided by the Agreement, which are of critical importance to the country and its international reputation; and

* to ensure that issues of mutual concern to the parties are addressed in a fair and reasonable way but, above all, in a manner that safeguards existing government expenditure commitments and the broader fiscal position.

The new process announced today will be separate to the Public Service Pay Commission which is evaluating pay levels in the public service. It is expected to deliver its initial report next spring.

This report will provide inputs on how the unwinding of FEMPI legislation can be best managed in the context of the national finances.

“It will also have regard to any particular labour market challenges the Commission identifies and to other conditions of service of public servants including tenure and pension,” a statement said.

The Minister confirmed that once this report is available, the Government intends to initiate negotiations on a successor Collective Agreement ahead of Budget 2018 considerations.

These negotiations will deal with the full range of issues including productivity, reform and the issue of affordable increases in pay.

The ICTU Public Services Committee (PSC) has welcomed the Government’s invite and believes the discussions "will provide a platform to seek improvements in the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement".

The PSC is also engaging with the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC).

"The PSPC’s forthcoming report is expected to inform the parties to the Lansdowne Road Agreement on how the unwinding of the FEMPI legislation, which introduced pay cuts and the ‘pension levy,’ can be best addressed during negotiations on a successor to the agreement," read a PSC statement.

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