Talks between management and unions, aimed at reaching agreement on public service issues, have taken place over the weekend and are continuing.
IMPACT’s first priority in this process has been to ensure that IMPACT members would be exempt if the Government introduces legislation to impose permanent pay cuts, indefinite incremental freezes for all, and other changes that are were not included in the package recently accepted by a majority of IMPACT members. We are now satisfied that IMPACT members will be exempted, by way of a collective agreement, if any such legislation is introduced.
IMPACT’s second priority was to make sure that, if there were any changes to the package, they would not erode the terms of the original LRC proposals accepted by a majority of IMPACT members in the ballot. We are now satisfied that this priority is secured.
We have used these negotiations to seek to address concerns voiced by IMPACT members during our ballot, whether they voted yes or no.
We have raised the issue of working hours. Management are insistent that the relevant public service workers should move to a 37 hour week as specified in the original proposals. However, management has now indicated a willingness to alter the phasing arrangements as follows: Working hours will increase by a maximum of 2 hours and 15 minutes from 1stJuly 2013, with any remaining increase taking effect from 1st July 2015.
We also raised the issue of returning those who earn between €65,000 and €100,000, and whose pay is reduced, to their original pay rates. We have now received clarification that half of this restoration will apply in April 2017, with the other half in January 2018.
We have also raised concerns about the potential effects on pensions for these members after the ‘grace period’ expires. As a result, management has now agreed to amend the increment freeze. Instead of a three-year increment freeze, the next due increment will be paid and will last for 18 months. Then a second increment will be paid, again to last for 18 months, before normal incremental progression resumes.
We also raised the issue of family friendly policies. It has been agreed that all staff at civil service assistant principal level, who currently have flexitime arrangements, will retain their existing arrangements on a personal to holder basis. Assistant principal officer is equivalent to grade VIII in health and senior executive officer in local authorities. This facility will not be made available to new applicants.
A similar, personal to holder, arrangement will apply to any staff currently working work-sharing patterns of less than 50% of full-time hours. This facility will not be made available to new applicants for work-sharing.
We have raised a number of other issues in the continuing discussions and will report to members on any developments.
Finally, we continue to lobby the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to increase the threshold at which pension reductions will apply.