New entrant talks underway

The outstanding issue is the two extra scale points for staff employed since 2011

See our short video explainer on the issue here

Union representatives met public service management last week to discuss new entrant pay issues. IMPACT had demanded early talks on the issue when it announced its members’ overwhelming support of the new Public Service Stability Agreement – subsequently accepted by a large majority of unions – last July.

The first meeting took place in the context of the recent ratification of the deal, which includes a process for dealing with outstanding issues affecting staff who entered the public service in 2011 and after.

Management confirmed that 53,000 workers had been hired since lower entrant scales were unilaterally introduced by the government in 2011. They also acknowledged that unions had opposed the new scales, and had used the first opportunity available at the time of the Haddington Road Agreement to equalise the maximum points of the scales.

The outstanding issue is the existence of two additional scale points for staff employed since 2011. IMPACT and other unions want to see the length of these scales reduced by two points to improve new entrants’ incomes and equalise the time it takes to reach the top of pay scales.

This solution is complicated by the fact that the length of pay scales differs widely across the public service.

The meeting agreed that data will be gathered from all sectors to identify the incremental scale points of all new entrants. Once this data is gathered the two sides will meet again to examine costings for any solutions.

Recruitment and retention

Meanwhile, the government is expected to approve terms of reference governing the Public Service Pay Commission’s (PSPC) examination of recruitment and retention issues shortly. IMPACT and other unions won agreement that the PSPC should undertake this work under the recently-endorsed Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA).

The commission is expected to invite submissions from unions representing different grades, starting with doctors and nurses. They will be asked to focus on presenting evidence that a problem exists.

The process is expected to establish the extent and nature of any recruitment and retention problems and, where they exist, to recommend measures to address them.

See our short video explainer on the issue here