Public Service Unions protected workers in Croke Park negotiations

Negotiations on an extension to the Croke Park Agreement have resulted in better protections for public servants than across-the-board pay cuts or other measures that could have been imposed by the Government, according to leaders of Unions representing the majority of public servants.

The officers of the ICTU public services committee said talks, which concluded this morning (Monday), had reduced the severity of management proposals under virtually every element of the package designed to cut the public service pay and pensions bill.

ICTU public services committee (PSC) chair Shay Cody said: “faced with managements determination to make large additional cuts to the paybill – by agreement or by legislation – our task was to minimise the adverse effects on our members and the services they provide.   We have achieved far more through negotiation than we could have hoped to gain through protests, including measures to address the two-tier workforce and some movement on the so-called pension levy.”

The unions said the labour relations commission proposals that emerged from the talks reaffirmed that there would be no compulsory redundancies in the public service.  They said negotiations had successfully delivered measures that would eliminate the “two-tier” workforce, introduced when the previous Government imposed an additional 10% cut in payscales for new entrants.  The proposals will also see a small restoration of pension levy reductions for all public servants.

On premium payments, the unions said negotiations had successfully moved management from its opening position, which was that payment for working Sundays should be reduced from double time to time and a half, and that premiums for Saturday working should be abolished outright.  Sunday payments will instead be reduced to time-and-three-quarters, while Saturday payments remain.  Overtime payments, which management effectively wanted to abolish have also been preserved, albeit at a lower rate.

On working time, the unions said negotiations had successfully moved management from its opening position for an extra five hours a week for all public servants regardless of their current working hours.

The unions said they had not accepted Government plans to cut so-called “higher pay”, but added that negotiations meant that they were able to shape the implementation of the measure in ways that ensured pay rates could be restored for all but the highest paid.

On increments, the unions said negotiations had successfully moved management from its opening position, which was that all increments should be frozen until the end of 2016.  Similarly, management proposals to remove flexitime for all public servants at above executive officer grade had been avoided, while other proposed changes to the operation of flexitime had been substantially softened.

The negotiations had also successfully moved management from its opening position which, among other things, was that the limit for redeployment should be increased from 45kms to 100kms.   There will be no change to the 45kms limit.