IMPACT executive recommends pay restoration agreement

The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of IMPACT trade union has recommended a vote in favour of the new pay agreement – the Lansdowne Road Agreement – ahead of a ballot of IMPACT members which will get underway from next week.

The committee met on Wednesday (3rd June) to consider the content of the agreement, which extends the main provisions of the Haddington Road Agreement until September 2018, and restores around €2,000 to the pay of most public servants in three phases between January 2016 and September 2017.

The agreement, to be known as the Lansdowne Road Agreement, provides for engagement and consultation for workplace change, oversight arrangements, dispute resolution and crucial outsourcing protections.

In recommending the vote, the union’s executive acknowledged that the new agreement achieved the essential objective of fairness by taking a flat rate approach to pay restoration. The executive further welcomed the fact that the agreement marked the first step forward on pay in the public service since emergency legislation (FEMPI) was introduced by the Government in 2009.

Phased restoration

Subject to the ratification of the agreement by members of the affiliated unions, the phases of pay restoration will occur as follows:

2016
• PHASE ONE: 1st January – The pension levy threshold (the salary amount above which the levy is payable) increases to €24,750 (from the current threshold of €15,000). This will reduce the pension levy by €600 per annum for all public servants earning above the threshold.
• Annualised salaries up to €24,000 will increase by 2.5% through a partial reversal of the 2010 public service pay cut.
• Annualised salaries between €24,001 and €31,000 will increase by 1% via the same mechanism.
• PHASE TWO: 1st September – Pension levy threshold increases to €28,750. This will further reduce the pension levy by €400 per annum for all public servants earning above the higher threshold.
• The combination of these measures in 2016 will improve all public service full time incomes by around €1,000 per annum.

2017
• PHASE THREE: 1st September – Annualised salaries up to €65,000 increase by €1,000 per annum.

Non-fulltime staff will receive pro rata increases based on the increases in annualised salaries. As the pension levy applies to annual income in each calendar year, the benefits for non-fulltime staff will vary. The effect on take home pay from the reduction in the pension levy will vary depending on an individual’s tax rate. The take home effects arising from increases in pay will vary depending on the individual tax rate, PRSI status, pension contribution and pension levy.

Haddington Road restoration and pensions ‘grace period’

In a covering letter that will accompany ballot papers being sent out to members next week, IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said it was disappointing that management was unwilling to extend the (2017) €1000 increase to categories of staff earning above €65,000, a development that only emerged at the conclusion of the negotiations. Shay added “An important aspect of the agreement is that it confirms that pay restoration for these staff, negotiated as part of the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA) will apply on 1st April 2017 and 1st January 2018.”

Shay added that the agreement also confirms that the Government intends to provide for a continuation of the ‘grace period’ for this group, which means that both the reduction in pay and any deferral of increment progression under Haddington Road will be disregarded for pension purposes.

Pensions increase
In a separate engagement, the management side confirmed to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Public Services Committee and the Alliance of Retired Public Servants that pensions will be increased by way of reducing the deduction made from pensions in payment. The threshold for the deduction will be increased from its current level of €12,000 leading to a maximum increase of €900 over the period 2016-17. This means around 80,000 public service pensioners (of a total 140,000) will be exempted from the deduction during this agreement.

Associated issues
The unions used the opportunity of the pay restoration talks to raise a number of issues with management. These are subject to ratification of the overall agreement and include the following:

• Professional registration fees (CORU) – these fees will be frozen at the current rate of €100 per annum until the expiry of the agreement.
• Health sector job evaluation – management has accepted that the principle of job evaluation applies and will meet to conclude arrangements for its conduct and scope in the health sector.
• Flexitime – it was agreed to conduct a pilot scheme in the civil service extending the flexitime carry-over period to one and a half days per month.

The outcome will be reviewed after six months.

A range of other issues were also covered, and details of these are being communicated to the relevant branches of IMPACT as ballot preparations continue.

Ballot papers will be sent out to branches and individual members of IMPACT from next Friday (12th June). The ballot will close at noon on Friday 3rd July.