Non-members face pay uncertainty over new legislation

Thursday 13th June 2013

Public servants who are not members of trade unions now face uncertainty over the restoration of pay cuts, working conditions and a possible three-year increment freeze, according to IMPACT.

In a website briefing posted in response to queries from members, the union says only members of unions that accept the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA) are certain to avoid the more punitive measures set out in new legislation known as FEMPI (the Financial Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2013).

Among other things, FEMPI allows for a three-year increment freeze for staff not signed up to the Haddington Road deal. It also paves the way for permanent pay cuts for staff earning over €65,000, as opposed to temporary cuts in the HRA. The new law also allows the minister to impose increased working time, reductions in premium and overtime payments, and other changes to working conditions on staff not covered by the HRA.

But FEMPI specifically excludes members of unions signed up to Haddington Road from these measures, although they will be bound by unwelcome – but less draconian – measures in the agreement.

The new IMPACT briefing says: “Staff who are not members of the union are at the mercy of management decisions about the application of the HRA agreement and the FEMPI legislation, in a situation where more savings and changes to working practices can be implemented through the legislation than through the agreement.”

And it says non-members are also at the mercy of management decisions on issues like selection for redeployment, changed roles, and other measures that are dealt with under the agreement. “In any event, non-members will not have the benefit of union representation, either directly with management or in formal disputes processes, if disputes arise over such issues,” it says.

The union says it’s certain that members of unions that reject the HRA will be subject to the more punitive FEMPI provisions.

The position of staff who are not members of any union is less clear in the legislation, which suggests that those who are not members of unions signed up to the deal are vulnerable to the imposition of FEMPI provisions. However, it is not yet clear how this will be operated by management at national, sectoral and local level. The union speculates that management could take one of three approaches:

  • It could apply the HRA provisions to staff in grades represented by unions that have signed up, regardless of whether they are members of those unions
  • It could allow non-members to ‘sign up’ to the HRA provisions on an individual basis and, thus, avoid the FEMPI provisions, or
  • It could seek to apply FEMPI terms to non-union staff and HRA terms to union members.

Read more HERE.

Read our Haddington Road ‘frequently asked questions’ HERE.