Everything you need to know about the Croke Park proposals

It’s been almost two weeks since the ‘Croke Park II’ proposals were announced. Since then, IMPACT has received a very hefty volume of enquiries from members about the proposed deal. Staff have been responding to those enquiries by email and phone while union officials have taken to the road to respond to members questions at workplace and branch meetings.

We’ve now been able to develop a comprehensive guide to all aspects of the deal based on your enquiries, and today we’ve published the Croke Park FAQ document on the IMPACT website. If we’ve missed anything, you can email your questions direct from the FAQ document itself.

On entering the most recent Croke Park negotiations, IMPACT’s general secretary Shay Cody described the negotiations as ‘probably the most difficult ever’. By the conclusion of the talks his prediction turned out to be accurate. The deal that has emerged from those negotiations is, without a doubt, the most challenging proposition put to public servants in living memory.

IMPACT’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) has recommended that our members accept the proposals. The decision to make that recommendation was not taken lightly. But IMPACT’s elected leadership, composed of a diverse group of public servants from a wide variety of grades, believe the proposals represent the best package that can be achieved through negotiation.

That’s the nub of the issue when IMPACT members are making their decision to vote for or against the agreement. Would it be possible to achieve something less painful and more palatable if the current deal was rejected? In our judgement, it isn’t.

There is no denying that the package will result in loss of income for a proportion of public servants, and changes in conditions for many more. It’s a stark but undeniable reality that, faced with management’s determination to make €1 billion additional cuts to the pay bill, our task in negotiations was to minimise the adverse effects on our members and the services they provide. But it was not possible to make that €1bn figure go away.

By negotiating, we did achieve the following:

  • There will be no compulsory redundancies
  • There’s no pay cut for most – 87% of public servants will avoid a pay cut.
  • The package contains measures that will eliminate the “two-tier” workforce introduced when the previous Government imposed an additional 10% cut in pay scales for new entrants.
  • On increments, unions successfully moved management from its position, which was that all increments should be frozen until the end of 2016.
  • On premium payments, unions moved management from its position, which was that payment for working Sundays should be reduced from double time to time and a half, and that premiums for Saturday working should be abolished outright.
  • Overtime payments, which management wanted to abolish, have also been preserved in a modified form.
  • On flexitime, unions were able to modify the management position on the grades to retain the facility.
  • The proposals will also see a small restoration of pension levy reductions for all public servants.
  • There will be no change to the 45km limit on redeployment. Management had sought a 100km radius.

Some say that we would have been better off staying outside of the talks. That would have led to a €1bn extraction from the public paybill by way of the blunt instrument of legislation. This would have been an abdication of responsibility to our members. By negotiating, IMPACT and other unions have succeeded in reducing the severity of management proposals in every important area, and it is likely that deeper cuts will be imposed if this package is rejected.

The priority right now is to ensure that IMPACT members understand the proposals, and what they mean for them. Before members cast their votes, it is also vital that they understand the alternatives.

If the current proposals pass, the savings that were sought by management will be achieved in a manner which best protects the lower paid. Protection against compulsory redundancy will remain and 87% of public servants will avoid a pay cut.

Although none of the unions involved in the talks accepted Government plans to cut so-called “higher pay”, the negotiations resulted in less severe cuts, a higher threshold at which cuts are imposed, and a form of implementation that means pay can be restored over time for those who currently earn less than €100,000 a year.

If the deal is rejected and legislation is introduced, we have no influence over how, where or for how long those measures are applied. That’s why it made sense to stay involved in the negotiations. That is why it makes sense to vote ‘yes’.

But before you make your decision, use all of the information to hand. Look out for workplace and branch meetings in your area so that you can make an informed choice about your future. Please look through this FAQ and if your question isn’t answered there, please get in touch with us through info@impact.ie.