2017 acceleration of public service pay restoration
How have unions delivered accelerated pay restoration?
Public service unions insisted on early negotiations to accelerate pay restoration last November, after the Government accepted Labour Court recommendations that gave Gardai better terms than those set out in the Lansdowne Road agreement (LRA).
Although it initially resisted, the Government finally agreed that the Garda settlement went beyond the terms of the LRA and agreed to talk. Those negotiations – between the officers of the ICTU Public Services Committee (PSC) and officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform – began in December 2016 and concluded in mid-January 2017. The agreement reached received Cabinet approval on 17th January 2017.
What has been agreed?
The January 2017 agreement brings forward the payment of a €1,000 increase (already due for payment in September 2017 under the LRA) by five months, to an earlier date of 1st April 2017. The accelerated payment applies to:
Is the payment a lump sum?
No. Contrary to some recent media reports, the €1,000 is an increase in the pay rate, not a lump sum payment.
How much will I see in my pay packet?
Fortnightly gross (ie, pre-tax) pay will increase by €38.33. This will be subject to the usual deductions for tax, PRSI, etc.
Does this deal fully match what Gardai received?
No. But this is acknowledged in the agreement, which accepts that outstanding issues can be pursued as part of a negotiation that will take place after the Public Service Pay Commission makes its initial report in the second quarter of 2017.
The ‘additional’ value of the Garda settlement has been estimated at around €1,000 a head, per year, for Gardai who earn less than €65,000 a year.
It would not have been possible for unions to win Government and opposition approval for additional public service-wide payments on this scale in 2017. That’s because there are only about 12,630 Gardai in this category – compared to over 250,000 across the entire public service.
So, the unions’ strategy was to maximise the benefit available in 2017 and ensure that the Government accepted that the remaining problem can be addressed in the next negotiations, which are due to start in the first half of this year.
I’ve read that the Garda deal was worth more than €1,000 a year
Many media reports combine improvements that are within the terms of Lansdowne Road (and have been applied to many other public servants) with others that go beyond it. The elements that went beyond Lansdowne Road were an increase in a rent allowance (rather than the restoration of an existing allowance, which was achieved under the LRA) and a new payment linked to leave days. Together, these two were worth approximately €1,000 a head, per year, for Gardai earning below €65,000.
Why no benefit for public servants who earn over €65,000?
Garda associations representing grades earning over €65,000 a year were not covered by the November 2016 Labour Court recommendations. This explains why the agreement now concluded doesn’t cover other public servants who earn more than €65,000 either.
However, under the LRA, public servants who earn over €65,000 will see the first phase of restoration of the temporary pay cuts introduced under the earlier Haddington Road agreement (HRA) in April 2017. In January 2018, the second phase of HRA restoration will fully restore the HRA cuts for staff who earned between €65,000 and €100,000. (The HRA temporary pay cuts did not apply to staff who earned less than €65,000.)
Is there going to be a ballot?
No, because this agreement simply improves a deal (the Lansdowne Road agreement), which has already been accepted by virtually all public service unions following ballots in 2015.
There is no need or requirement to ballot when improvements are made to an existing agreement. For example, no ballot took place when pay rises already due under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF) agreement were improved through later negotiations.
If negotiations on a successor to the LRA are successful later this year, there will be a ballot on the new proposals before they are accepted or rejected. But this would be a completely new agreement, rather than an improvement to an existing deal.
Will there be any further acceleration of pay restoration?
That is what the unions are working to achieve. Since last spring, public service unions have argued that pay recovery should be accelerated because the economy and public finances have improved faster than envisaged when the Lansdowne Road agreement was signed in mid-2015.
Sean Heading Regional Secretary, Connect Trade Union.
Statement Below from the ICTU PUBLIC SERVICES COMMITTEE
“The Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions met today and endorsed the following joint statement:
Joint Statement by Government and Public Service Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on the Implementation of the Lansdowne Road Agreement
A process of engagement has taken place between the Government in its capacity as the Public Service employer and the Public Service Committee of ICTU under the framework provided by Section 6 of the Lansdowne Road Agreement to address an anomaly issue arising in the context of Labour Court Recommendations (CD/16/321& CD/16/322) in respect of the Garda Associations.
In acknowledgement of this anomaly that has arisen, the Government has agreed to an increase in annualised salaries of €1,000 for the period 1 April 2017 to August 2017 inclusive for:
This additional payment is being offered by Government on the understanding that there will be continued adherence to the terms of the LRA, and in particular, its mechanisms to resolve disagreements before they escalate into industrial disputes over the remaining period of the Agreement. The requirement therefore to adhere to industrial peace will be fully observed in all sectors.
The Oversight Group for the Agreement will meet regularly in order to take an active role in addressing any major disputes that arise ensuring compliance with the relevant terms of the agreement over its remaining term.
The Public Services Committee of ICTU recognises the value of this payment but has advised the management side that outstanding issues will be pursued in the further talks to take place following the initial report of the Public Service Pay Commission.
Further information: Bernard Harbor – 087-230-1262″