Analysis: Focus shifts to new talks

By Bernard Harbor

IMPACT’s Shay Cody led unions in pay improvement.
IMPACT’s Shay Cody led unions in pay improvement.

Attention will now shift to talks on a successor to the Lansdowne Road agreement (LRA) after IMPACT’s success in bringing forward a €1,000 increase by five months. The payment, due under the LRA, will now be paid in April 2017, rather than September.

The negotiations on a successor to the LRA were also brought forward on the insistence of IMPACT and other unions. They are now set to begin immediately after the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) makes its initial report in the late spring or early summer.

Up until last December, ministers had insisted that the LRA would run its course to September 2018, and that talks on a successor would take place next year. The main significance of earlier negotiations is that they can conclude and go to ballot ahead of the Government’s considerations on Budget 2018, which will be announced in October 2017.

In other words, the Government will be able to make provision for further increases in 2018 if the talks are successful.

IMPACT and other 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.

Speaking after last week’s announcement of the April pay improvement, IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said the union had made a successful start to addressing the issues arising from the Garda pay settlements of last November:

“We will continue to pursue this in the next set of negotiations, on a successor to the LRA, which is expected to begin in the spring or early summer. The main business of these talks will be to establish a pay round and address the timetable for unwinding the ‘FEMPI’ legislation, which introduced the 2009-2010 pay cuts and pension levy.

“IMPACT will push for the fastest possible pay recovery in the context of public finances and other calls on the public purse, like investment in infrastructure and public services,” he said.

The ICTU Public Services Committee (PSC), which represents the vast majority of the country’s public service unions, has already made a submission to the Public Service Pay Commission. The PSC officers have also met with the Commission. Further submissions are in preparation and it is expected that further meetings will be scheduled.

Former IMPACT general secretary Peter McLoone is a member of the Commission.