Fire fighters move welcomed



Bernard Harbor

IMPACT has welcomed the Government’s agreement to consolidate the fire fighters’ rent allowance into pay scales. The move will see new entrants receive the value of the allowance in their pay. The allowance was abolished for new staff in early 2012.

The decision to consolidate the allowance into pay, which was announced by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin yesterday, comes on foot of extensive talks involving IMPACT, SIPTU and government ministers and senior officials.

Direct talks aimed at the early implementation of the decision will now take place between the two unions and departmental officials.

IMPACT said the move would resolve an austerity-era measure that had been felt exclusively by younger workers entering the fire service.

The withdrawal of allowances from new entrants is the last remaining aspect of the ‘two-tier’ public service pay system. Reduced pay scales, which were 10% lower at each point of every public service pay scale, were imposed in the dying days of the last Fianna Fáil-led Government. But IMPACT and other unions successfully negotiated the end of the two-tier system on foot of the Haddington Road deal two years later.

As a result, most public servants recruited since 2011 move onto pre-2011 scale points after two years at most, before ascending the same pay scales as everyone else in their grade.

But groups for whom allowances became a standard element of earnings over the years retained significant pay differences because of the abolition of allowances for new entrants. These groups include gardai and teachers as well as firefighters.