Friday 15 December 2017

Government wants a backpay clause in deal

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe. Pic Tom Burke
Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe. Pic Tom Burke

Anne-Marie Walsh

The Government has given unions a 'use it or lose it' ultimatum at talks on a new public sector pay deal.

It wants them to agree a clause that means public servants will miss out on pay rises if they do not sign up to any new pact that is brokered by January 1 next year.

A draft document circulated at the talks, seen by the Irish Independent, said the parties should agree that any union that signs up after this date will not be entitled to retrospective wage hikes.

This means those who refuse to back the deal would not get a refund of any wage increases they missed out on that were paid to other workers if they sign up after that date.

The document says they "will not receive any retrospective benefit in respect of adjustments to pay already implemented prior to their ratification of, or full adherence with, this agreement".

It also says that the Government should have a 'get out of jail clause' in the event of the "materialisation of significantly adverse impacts as a result of Brexit" in the form of a review of the deal.

But it says if the deal must be revisited, the Government will not act without consulting with unions.

Sources said unions shot down the proposal to exclude unions who sign up late from retrospective increases. They said they believe the clause was an indirect warning to the ASTI, which has not signed up to the Lansdowne Road Agreement but is attending talks on an extension to the deal.

The document also says that the main priority of the agreement is the "phased unwinding" of the emergency legislation that cut state workers' pay.

It says that a process of performance verification will be put in place for workers.

In advance of each "pay adjustment", the secretary general responsible for that sector should verify progress in that sector and make a report to an oversight body.

It says a "robust" performance management system should be fully implemented in all sectors by January 1 2019.

The draft proposal also says that talks should begin on incorporating Saturday as part of the normal working week, where necessary.

It says these discussions will begin immediately and the parties should agree to have them concluded by the end of this year.

The document says industrial peace is an essential requirement of the new pay deal.

It is now expected that the negotiations, which are in their eighth day, will run into next week, with no talks to take place over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe is likely to agree to pay rises, which have been slated at around 2pc per year, as part of the new deal to extend the Lansdowne Road Agreement. The public sector pay bill is worth over a third of Government spending, and stands at €16.4bn.

Irish Independent

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