Wednesday 13 December 2017

Public pay deal boost as Impact gives it a thumbs up

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe Photo: Tony Gavin
Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe Photo: Tony Gavin

Anne-Marie Walsh

The main public sector union has recommended the new pay deal to its 60,000 members, giving it a boost following a week of negative reaction.

Most unions' executive bodies have so far given it a thumbs down despite the fact that it would give most public servants a pay increase of more than 7pc by 2020.

Impact bucked the trend by unanimously recommending the proposed agreement at a meeting of its Central Executive Committee yesterday.

It will begin balloting its members on the deal that will cost €1.1bn - in pay rises and easing a pension levy - over four years next week.

The deal was agreed in the early hours last Thursday morning at the Workplace Relations Commission, but must be balloted on by union members to come into force.

As well as pay rises, it reduces the impact of the pension levy, although part of the levy will be kept in place for most public servants as a new higher permanent pension contribution.

Siptu's decision on whether to recommend the deal will be pivotal and its National Executive Committee will issue its verdict on Thursday week.

It has the biggest public sector union membership of 80,000 and without its backing, or Impact's, the draft deal will be doomed.

Impact's recommendation that it is the "best deal available" comes on the same day as the Government backed it at a cabinet meeting.

Union spokesperson Bernard Harbor said all pay lost through financial emergency measures in the Public Interest legislation would be restored to more than 90pc of public servants under the deal.

The rest would see full pay restoration within a further two years. And lower paid staff currently earning less than €28,500, who have already exited the emergency legislation, will get pay rises.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe claimed the deal gives affordable pay rises, makes pension provision more sustainable and secures industrial peace.

He said as well as pay increases, there are commitments on recruitment and retention and pay for new entrants.

However, the TUI and INTO do not feel the deal goes far enough for those on lower pay for the first few years of their careers. Mr Donohoe said those hired after 2013 will make income gains as they will pay less of the pension levy than they are currently in the new superannuation contribution.

Irish Independent

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