Union negotiators seek genuine equity in talks

Tuesday 19th February 2013

IMPACT and other unions involved in trying to negotiate an extension to the Croke Park agreement say claims that certain categories are being “singled out” for excessive cuts are wrong.

Management has sought cuts of €170 million from Sunday, Saturday and evening premium payments – a figure unions involved in the talks believe can be reduced through negotiation.

But larger or equivalent sums are being targeted in other areas. It has emerged that over €350 million – more than a third of the additional €1 billion in pay and pension savings sought – is likely to come from those on higher pay, together with an accelerated reduction in public service headcount facilitated by extended working hours.

Virtually no ‘uniformed’ public servants will be affected by any adjustment in higher public service pay.

Other categories of staff are also facing cuts of the same order as the premium pay ‘ask’. For example, if agreement can be reached, cuts in the education sector are likely to be similar to those in health.

It is also likely that the amount of additional working time sought from clerical and administrative staff across the public service will be more than that sought from others.

From the outset of talks, IMPACT and other unions have insisted any package that emerges must be broadly equitable. This means that those on higher incomes should be asked to contribute proportionately more, and that the net outcome of a final package should not hit any group disproportionately.

Premium attendance payments make up a relatively large portion of the pay bill, which goes almost exclusively to a small number of staff groups. Management says they can’t be excluded from savings in the current climate. It also says that excluding premium attendance payments from any change, when everything else is on the table, flies in the face of equity.

This is especially true when other groups of workers, including local authority outdoor workers and staff in disability services and medical labs, have already seen big cuts in their overtime and premium payments through reforms agreed under the Croke Park deal.

IMPACT also pointed out that every ICTU-affiliated trade union is in the negotiation process.

Read Croke Park talks updates HERE.