Pay commission under pressure on first day to get results

The new public sector pay commission will have its first formal meeting today, but is already facing calls to hasten matters and to have recommendations by the new year.

Commission chairman, Kevin Duffy, will meet today with the other six members of the group, as pressure continues for workers’ pay rises, on the back of a proposed, €40m garda package.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe says the commission must report back by the mid-2017 on public pay, and that its recommendations will feed into the successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, the deal with trade unions, which is scheduled to run until late 2018.

Health Minister Simon Harris said at the weekend that the new commission could report by next April, which would hasten the talks process for a new deal.

The Public Services Executive Union general secretary, Tom Geraghty, said he and other trade-union figures wanted the new commission to finish its work much earlier, possibly as soon as the year-end. He said the report should be written up in January.

“We need to get into negotiations [for a new deal] immediately after Christmas. If this is going to get resolved and if they [the commission] are going to have a role, they are going to have to report a lot earlier. We need to get a handle on this quickly,” said Mr Geraghty.

The new pay commission, agreed in the Programme for Government, as well as with Fianna Fáil, will examine pay for new entrants in the public sector and public pensions, and will also look at salaries and benefits for workers in other jurisdictions. It will also compare pay rates with the private sector. The cost of living here, for workers, will also be factored into considerations by the seven-member commission.

The new body will also commission research, and use existing figures on pay and conditions for public workers.

It is expected to seek submissions from unions and will publish its findings when finished.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has dismissed the commission as a talking shop with no decision-making powers.

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