Public service pay on IMPACT agenda

coins2IMPACT has circulated information on how public service pay is set in Britain and continental Europe as part of its preparations for talks on a new Irish system of public service pay determination.

The Lansdowne Road Agreement commits the Government to discuss a new pay-setting mechanism, which will eventually replace the emergency ‘FEMPI’ legislation. Discussions are expected to start later this year.

FEMPI – the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, which was used to introduce pay cuts and the so-called pension levy – is expected to be repealed over time as the recovery in the public finances strengthens.

In a letter to IMPACT branches earlier this week, IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said the union was developing its position in order to enter discussions with a considered view of the most appropriate method for pay determination in Ireland. “In this context, it is obviously useful to be informed by the experience of trade unions in comparable European countries,” he said.

“There are many different forms of public service pay determination and it is vital that Ireland adopts a mechanism that is workable, fair and effective. I believe that the experiences in some other small open European economies are particularly informative for Ireland,” said Shay.

Meanwhile, IMPACT has said that there will be a strong case to accelerate public service pay recovery if better-than-expected growth and ‘fiscal space’ emerge in the coming months. In an article in the Irish Examiner, the union’s head of communications Bernard Harbor said: “Most people now accept that there is a case for public service pay recovery, over time and in the context of financial realities and other priorities in society.

“The cash available will not meet all the demands recently voiced on pay and investment. Union members will expect their negotiators to ensure that any available resources are distributed progressively, and not simply to those who shout first or loudest,” he wrote.

Public service pay determination will be one of the issues debated at IMPACT’s biennial delegate conference, which takes place in Killarney next month.