Call for talks as pay commission reports

pay rises imageIMPACT today (Tuesday 9th May 2017) called for immediate talks on accelerated public service pay recovery following the publication of the report of the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) 2017. The commission concluded that “there is a basis for the parties to enter into negotiations for a further collective agreement to extend the Lansdowne Road Agreement.”

The report, which is summarised in this document finds that average public service pay is now on a par with the private sector average once you take account of relevant factors like educational attainment, job features and experience. It says average public service earnings are now 8% lower than in 2008.

However, it also recommends that employee pension contributions should increase as the so-called ‘pension levy’ is phased out over time. This follows its conclusion that public servants employed before 2013 have pensions worth between 12% and 18% more than average pensions in the private sector.

The 12-18% range spans actuarial assessments submitted to the commission by the ICTU Public Services Committee (12%) and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (18%). The commission’s own actuarial review puts the pension gap for pre-2013 staff at between 13% and 14%, but says pension arrangements for public servants hired after January 2013 are on a par with private sector averages.

Hours

The report says that 15 million additional public service working hours were introduced by the Haddington Road agreement rather than FEMPI. As such, the issue is outside the commission’s terms of reference, which were to advise on the unwinding of the FEMPI legislation. It notes that the issue was raised in union submissions and is a matter for the parties.

The commission also said that its comparisons of public and private sector earnings took account of working hours.

Recruitment

The report concludes that public servants receive “significantly lower gains in earnings” for additional years of experience, when compared to the private sector. But it says public service recruitment and retention difficulties are confined to a small number of specific areas, and there is no evidence to support the view that reduced terms for new entrants is causing recruitment problems “in general.”

Tenure

The PSPC says security of tenure is not “intrinsic” to the public service or “extrinsic” to the private sector. But while public servants on permanent contracts are “generally” at lower risk of compulsory redundancy, it’s not possible to put a specific monetary value on job security.

Similarly, it concludes that it’s difficult to draw definitive conclusions from international pay comparisons because of methodological differences in the available data.

In a statement today, the ICTU Public Services Committee (PSC), which negotiates on behalf of virtually all public service unions, said: “We welcome today’s publication of the report of the Public Service Pay Commission which, among other things, provides a good summary of the sacrifices public servants made in the years following the economic crash. It’s now time to move swiftly into negotiations with a view to accelerating pay recovery for workers whose incomes are significantly lower than they were eight years ago.

“Our priorities in the talks will be to restore incomes as quickly as is sustainably possible, and to protect the value of retirement incomes.”

The PSC noted that public servants currently pay over 20% of earnings above €28,750 towards their pensions, once you take account of pension contributions, PRSI, and the so-called pension levy.

Read IMPACT’s summary of the report HERE.

Read the full report HERE.

A special IMPACT members’ ebulletin is also available HERE.