Sunday 21 January 2018

Union leader won't put bill on wage demands

Jack O'Connor Picture: Tom Burke
Jack O'Connor Picture: Tom Burke

Anne-Marie Walsh and Cormac McQuinn

Union leaders can't say how much more money will be needed to quell public sector pay demands.

After the €40m Garda buy-off to prevent a strike, unions are demanding talks on faster pay rises for public servants.

The head of the country's biggest union says the current public sector wage deal is a "dead duck".

The Government insists the Lansdowne Road Agreement is still intact despite the garda deal, although unions who signed up to it say it has had its day.

Siptu general president Jack O'Connor said the Lansdowne Road Agreement, which gives public servants moderate pay rises up to 2018, is "a dead duck".

Mr O'Connor said the best option is a collective deal with the Government rather than a free-for-all with unions lodging numerous pay claims.

However, he refused to say how much more funding should be added to the €290m budget already set aside for pay rises under the Lansdowne Road Agreement next year.

He said he was not saying that public services should be cut but the Government should find funding by reviewing its plans to cut capital gains tax.

He added that these situations mean groups go "to see what they can do for their people".

"Everybody then realises unless we all go, these groups that are on their own will gobble up whatever's there and we'll end up with nothing," he said.

The Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has asked Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe to begin discussions to speed up pay hikes in January.

It wants the new Public Service Pay Commission's first report on the unwinding of the emergency legislation that cut public servants' pay to be fast-tracked in the coming weeks ahead of negotiations.

Unions had expected talks to begin after this report was issued in April.

Irish Independent

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