The IMPACT branch that represents Ireland’s lowest paid civil servants has demanded a living wage across the public service and fair pensions for civil service cleaners and service officers. The living wage – the minimum income needed to meet the basic requirements of life – is generally accepted to be €11.50 an hour.
The annual general meeting of IMPACT’s FGE branch, which took place last week, heard from members who earn just €373 a week (€10.08 an hour). Delegates, including service officers and cleaners and catering staff, explained how they cannot pay bills and struggle with rising rents and additional taxes.
Delegates at the meeting unanimously called for the introduction of a living wage, which would lift new entrants to the lowest paid civil service jobs out of poverty pay. A number of motions to IMPACT’s biennial conference, which takes place next week, also call for the living wage to be the minimum salary across the civil and public service.
Service officers at the meeting said they faced poverty in retirement because the state pension age has been raised from 65 to 66. It is due to rise to 67 by 2021. Delegates heard that the removal of the transitional pension meant civil servants must sign on as unemployed when they retire at 65 years, in order to receive basic social welfare entitlements after 40 years’ service.
Delegates also said changes to public service pensions in 2012 penalised workers earning less than €40,000 a year, who lost €43 per week. Those earning over €40,000 were not affected in the same way.
Oireachtas chefs and catering staff said they provide meals to deputies, ministers and senators while being denied equality of opportunity because they cannot become established civil servants. They said their pensions were paltry compared to the politicians they serve.
FGE members also called for adequate staffing at the Garda training college in Templemore, saying it must significantly expand its complement of cleaning and attendant staff to take account of the increase in trainee numbers.
Delegates unanimously called for an end to the use of private sector contractors for cleaning, reception and security duties, and called on IMPACT to highlight the additional costs incurred through the use of private contractors.