IMPACT and other public service unions are continuing to engage with the Public Service Pay Commission. The commission has been charged with giving inputs to Government and unions on how ‘FEMPI’ laws, which introduced pay cuts and the pension levy, can be unwound.
The ICTU Public Services Committee (PSC), which represents almost all the unions in the sector, has now made two formal submissions to the commission, along with a response to a submission by employers’ body IBEC. IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody, who chairs the PSC, said a third union submission on pensions is also being prepared.
There have also been a number of meetings between the PSC officers and the commission.
The value of public service pensions – compared to those in the private sector – is expected to be a significant issue in negotiations on a successor to the Lansdowne Road agreement, which are to begin once the commission reports in the late spring.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) has argued that a higher value should be put on public service pensions because private provision has dropped. IMPACT and other unions counter that the value of public service pensions has fallen, while around a sixth of serving staff are now in a new – and much less costly – ‘career average’ scheme.
“It’s not acceptable to say that, because many private sector employers have walked away from their pension responsibilities, workers who still pay for and retain reasonable pension benefits should lose them too. That’s pretty much the definition of ‘a race to the bottom’,” said Shay.
The forthcoming union paper on pensions, which will address these and other issues, is being drafted with the assistance of pension actuaries.
Former IMPACT general secretary Peter McLoone is a member of the commission, which is chaired by former Labour Court chairperson Kevin Duffy.