Public expenditure minister Paschal Donohoe today (Thursday) reiterated the Government’s commitment to negotiating a new public service pay deal, and said pay rises were the “sign of a normal functioning economy.”
Speaking at the prestigious Industrial Relations News annual conference in Dublin, the Minister called for productivity measures introduced under recent agreements to be maintained, and said further productivity improvements would underpin future pay increases and investment in public services.
He made specific reference to the additional hours introduced under the Haddington Road agreement, saying they “remain critical to enabling us to meet increased demand in frontline services, and to improve services to the public generally.”
In response, IMPACT spokesperson Bernard Harbor said it was no surprise that the Government was taking a firm position on working time and other issues in advance of negotiations, which are expected to commence after the Public Service Pay Commission reports in the spring.
“IMPACT’s priority in the forthcoming talks will be to secure a pay round and restore incomes through the unwinding of the ‘FEMPI’ legislation, which introduced pay cuts and the pension levy, in the shortest possible time.
“Minister Donohoe’s comments on hours and other productivity measures are further evidence that public servants have made a large and tangible contribution to Ireland’s recovery. In fairness, the Minister explicitly acknowledged this in his speech today. We accept the point that any deal must be sustainable, and that there are competing demands on the public purse. Nevertheless, working time will be on our agenda when we enter talks in a couple of months’ time,” he said.
The Minister gave a strong endorsement to a “fair and stable” industrial relations environment and said the Government was committed to reaching a deal in the forthcoming talks. He said that, even in difficult times, the last three public service agreements had ensured “no lay-offs and no leap-fogging.”
He said groups who could “shout loudest,” or were “best placed to influence” should not get better treatment than others. “We have to ensure an equitable approach that considers all of our public servants on equal merit. An inclusive collective approach is the best way to do that,” he said.
The conference also heard that half of all private companies plan to increase pay in 2017. The results of large employer survey, conducted by Industrial Relations News and the CIPD, showed that this figure rises to 66% in unionised companies.