Public-sector pay talks on a successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement will be held no later than February, five members of Cabinet said.
Talks will have to be earlier than the Government wanted to avoid all-out industrial unrest.
Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe said his “plans are not yet finalised” as to when talks for a new pay deal will commence.
He is playing his cards close to his chest, while the Garda Representative Association is having its ballot over the proposed pay-increase deal put forward by the Labour Court.
However, there is a growing acceptance in Government that the GRA is likely to reject the deal. Ministers, both in Fine Gael and the Independent ranks, are in agreement that talks must begin by February.
“The Garda deal was a game-changer and even if the gardaí reject the deal, the Government has to move to contain industrial unrest,” said one Fine Gael minister.
Independent Alliance ministers Shane Ross and Finian McGrath have agreed to give Mr Donohoe as free a hand as possible to “contain” the problem.
Mr Donohoe has said the estimated cost of the implementation of the Lansdowne Road agreement is €267m for 2016, €290m for 2017, and €287m for 2018, which is a cumulative €844m.
“A successor, collective agreement to the Lansdowne Road agreement needs to be negotiated. I have already outlined, prior to recent events, the timeframe for that,” Mr Donohoe said.
He wants to allow the public-service pay commission to complete its work, but it could be asked to produce its report earlier than the second quarter of next year. The commission has been tasked with providing an initial report to the Government on public-service remuneration, in the context of the financial emergency measures in the Public Interest Acts, 2009 and 2015.
The findings will inform the Government’s considerations of public-service remuneration, and inform public-service employers in negotiations with staff on a successor to Lansdowne Road, said Mr Donohoe.
Mr Donohoe has met the public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions once since the issuing of the Labour Court recommendation. His officials have met them twice since.
Union leaders want the kinds of benefitsconferred under the Labour Court recommendation.
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