New laws allowing the Government to cut public sector workers’ pay without their agreement have been published.
The legislation was unveiled to coincide with the publication of the revised deal struck with union leaders to slash €300m of the state payroll.
Should rank-and-file workers reject the plan from the Labour Relations Commission – a revised version of the overwhelmingly rejected Croke Park II - the Government will use the new laws to impose unilateral pay cuts across the public sector.
“Legislation is necessary regardless of whether the proposed reductions are the subject of agreement with the public service unions and associations,” a spokesman for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said.
“The legislation also confirms the Government’s ability to make the necessary savings should collective agreements not be reached with the unions, by setting out a number of contingency measures.”
The Government hopes full agreement with all the unions can be reached over the proposals, which include pay cuts of up to 10% for public servants earning more than €65,000 and cuts to pensions.
Some of the other measures in the revised package include nurses working longer hours, teachers losing supervision and substitution payments and a series of increment freezes.
More than 20 unions and organisations representing public servants, including frontline workers, now have to go back to members to reject or accept the draft proposals, with some expected to re-ballot workers.
If they refuse to back the agreement, the new legislation enables the Government to impose cuts regardless.
The Government spokesman said it was necessary to have the new laws in place to implement the proposals outlined in the new pay deal – named the Haddington Road Agreement. If passed, the proposals will be imposed by July 1 this year.
The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2013 will be debated in the Dáil next week before it gets passed.
The bill states: “A new section 2B is inserted in to the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act 2009.
“This provides that an existing power to fix terms and conditions may be exercised by the relevant employer or minister of the Government so as to result in less favourable remuneration, other than core salary, or increased hours for the public servants concerned, notwithstanding any of the terms of any enactment, contract or otherwise provided for.”
The Haddington Road Agreement seeks to achieve savings of €300m from the public pay bill this year alone, and €1bn by 2015.
Earlier this week, public servants were warned they face compulsory redundancies unless they accept the deal.
Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said accepting the deal was the only way to guarantee workers would not be forced from their jobs.