Union in pay talks warning

IMPACT has accused the benchmarking review body of deliberately ensuring that thousands of public servants received nothing from last January’s pay review.

At the union’s biennial conference in Kilkenny yesterday, IMPACT general secretary Peter McLoone said the union had left the Government under no illusions that any similar form of future benchmarking was “dead in the water”.

“If anyone thinks public servants will ever sign up to a pre-determined outcome again, let me tell them — it ain’t going to happen,” he said.

In early January, the benchmarking body determined that only 11,000 of the country’s 300,000 public sector workers should be entitled to increases. That decision was all the more infuriating for public sector workers coming as it did just 24 hours after the Government sanctioned large pay increases for chief executives of commercial state bodies such as ESB chief Padraig Walsh whose wage packet rose to almost €500,000.

Yesterday, Peter McLoone said it was “utterly unacceptable” that the benchmarking review body should adopt an approach of “let’s make it up as we go along” in order to achieve a certain outcome.

“That is what happened when you seek to understand why the method of comparing public/private sector was changed so fundamentally from the first report to the second,” said Mr McLoone.

The union said it wants a genuine review of public sector pay determination to ensure pay comparisons are made with what it described as good private sector employers rather than a disproportionate number of small and medium companies, which tended to pay less.

Meanwhile, Mr McLoone told delegates at the Kilkenny conference that he was optimistic a deal on pay could be done in the continuing national talks.

“I am also under no illusion about the enormous challenges we face in the current negotiations. But it is a robust process with a proven track record of resolving seemingly intractable problems.”

This afternoon, Taoiseach Brian Cowen addresses delegates and it is expected he will refer to the pay talks and the public sector modernisation agenda.


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