May 17, 2016

Siptu: Pay commission must not be ‘bunch of Thatcherites’




Siptu president Jack O’Connor has said whoever works on the planned public sector pay commission must be “objective people and not just a bunch of Thatcherites”.

He said on Newstalk Breakfast: “As far as the commission itself is concerned, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, so long as it is done in consultation with the trade unions representing the people who work in the public service.”

The Government has committed to the establishment of the new commission in the coming months to help quell industrial unrest and prepare the ground for a successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Higher pay rises for doctors, nurses and those staff who are difficult to retain in the public service are likely to be considered for inclusion in a new public sector pay deal.

While some senior Government figures said a public sector pay rise could be as high as 6.5 per cent over the period of a new pay agreement, others expressed scepticism that a final package would offer a pay rise of that scale.

The new head of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, Antoinette Cunningham, said gardaí are frustrated by news of the commission.

“Gardaí were already promised a commission on our pay, this was supposed was to be completed in 2012. But three and half years of talking now has to stop. That’s the frustration,” she said.

She said the association will march on Dáil Éireann tomorrow, will picket the Dáil next week and the Minister for Justice’s office the week after that.

“We are seriously considering industrial action,” she added.

The commission has been agreed between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in their deal on a minority government.

Government and union sources believe it will pave the way for full-blown negotiations, expected to begin in a year’s time, on a successor to the Lansdowne Road deal.

Negotiations

A successor agreement will have to be accounted for in Budget 2018, which will be announced in October 2017. Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has said the current agreement is the “only show in town” and will be implemented in full.

The commission will provide a forum for pay to be discussed in advance of full negotiations.

Its terms of reference are expected to include the benchmarking of public pay in Ireland to other jurisdictions, such as the UK and other western European countries.

The commission will be expected to produce recommendations but the Government will not be bound by these.

Another aspect likely to be examined by the commission – and factored into a subsequent pay agreement – is the awarding of higher pay rises to staff such as nurses and doctors in order to persuade in-demand workers to stay and work within Ireland rather than go abroad.

Teachers and gardaí would be unlikely to be included in any such deal.

Others who may see higher pay rises are those in IT, project management and financial control, particularly in the health service.

SOURCE - irishtimes.