Discussions to address iniquities in pay arrangements for staff who entered the public service after January 2011 should begin immediately if the ICTU Public Services Committee backs the proposed Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) when it meets on 18th September, according to Ireland’s largest public service union.
Overall union endorsement of the deal became more likely with today’s (Monday’s) announcement that IMPACT members have backed the agreement by a margin of 77% to 23% on a 52% turnout. The union has almost 60,000 members, including 50,000 in the public sector.
If accepted, the PSSA facilitates negotiations on the so-called ‘new entrants’ issue, which saw lower pay scales introduced for staff who joined the public service in 2011 and after. Although the scales were merged in 2013, it still takes ‘new entrants’ two years longer than other public servants to reach the top of their pay scales.
IMPACT deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan said he believed the PSSA process could result in the removal of two incremental points from most pay scales. This would mean faster progress up the scale for new entrants, and an equal scale-length for staff who joined the public service before and after 2011.
“The PSSA will see the restoration of pay cuts and a significant proportion of the so-called pension levy for the vast majority of public servants, including new entrants. This is a good outcome, soured by the corrosive iniquity between pre- and post-2011 staff which, in the public service, is now the number one legacy of the crisis. It needs to be dealt with urgently and conclusively.
“If the majority of unions vote to accept the PSSA, IMPACT will be demanding that this work begins as soon as the ICTU Public Services Committee meets in mid-September to confirm the ballot outcome. I believe we should be in meaningful talks before the end of September. We need to find imaginative ways of resolving the problem in every part of the public service, including the education sector,” he said.
IMPACT said it would continue to avail of outsourcing protections which, on the unions’ insistence, were maintained in the new agreement, to guard against privatisation. The union also said it would be consulting with relevant groups of members before utilising the agreement’s procedures for examining recruitment and retention difficulties in certain parts of the public service. And it insisted that local public service employers must be held to the implementation of agreed measures to develop family-friendly work practices.
IMPACT said it would also seek the application of the PSSA pay terms in the state-funded community and voluntary sector, and said it would continue to pursue pay rounds for its members in commercial enterprises. And the union highlighted its determination to make progress on pension issues for members who are not covered by the agreement, but who deliver public services. These include community employment supervisors and staff in the school completion service.