Irish Water staff set for pay increments

Irish Water employees are to receive pay increments of between 1.5 to 3% until the end of next year, after which they will be able to receive “performance-related awards”.

The utility’s parent firm Ervia yesterday announced that it has accepted a recommendation from the Labour Relations Commission [LRC] following a dispute with unions over workers’ pay.

The dispute arose after Irish Water refused to pay performance-related awards for 2013 and 2014 amid criticisms of the company and allegations of a bonus culture.

Unions then took the dispute to the LRC, which yesterday criticised Irish Water for refusing to implement the 2013 agreement.

“It is regrettable that the company chose to unilaterally resile from the agreement that had been agreed in 2012 and implemented in 2013,” LRC deputy director of conciliation services Anna Perry said.

“Particularly given its ongoing position that the pay model introduced in 2013 is the correct one for the company and the fact that the recently concluded independent review of the model confirms its ongoing appropriateness,” she said.

The proposal put forward by the LRC recommends that the pay model introduced to Ervia in 2013 should be implemented in full immediately across the Ervia group, with the exception of Irish Water, which will adopt the Ervia group pay model from 2017.

The performance-related reward element of the pay model will not apply to Irish Water Staff until January 2017.

“Before then, an interim arrangement will apply where Irish Water employees revert to an increment-based model for a period from January 2014 to the end of 2016.

“Irish Water employees will receive non-pensionable annual increments ranging from 1.5 to 3% effective from January of each year following their appointments,” a statement from Ervia read.

Ervia said that it has accepted the LRC proposal, and while the measures are to be put to workers in a ballot, unions are to recommend adopting the measures.

Siptu official Adrian Kane said unions believe the LRC proposals form the basis for a resolution of the dispute.

“Siptu and the group of unions at Ervia will be recommending acceptance of the LRC proposals, but obviously it will be subject to the members’ decision,” he said.

The company yesterday cited a consultants’ review of the Ervia pay model, commissioned by its board, which found that there “is no evidence of a “richly rewarded bonus culture” in Ervia”.

The review by Aon Hewitt Consulting states that a “link between pay and performance is appropriate to encourage a high performance culture” and that the company pay model “is typical of that in most private sector companies in Ireland”.

The report’s authors state “that the design of the pay model and the performance process which supports it are fully compatible with Ervia’s stated desire to promote a high performance culture whilst controlling costs to create a sustainable business.”

The report said the pay model delivers value for money and provides appropriate controls and robust management of pay levels and also does not encourage excessively high levels of pay.

Ervia said its pay model has reduced payroll costs by €34m over the last five years and that pay progression is “linked directly and unequivocally to performance”.

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