Public sector seeks accelerated pay restoration

Higher civil and public servants are demanding accelerated restoration of pay after claiming they earn up to 60% less than their private sector counterparts.

Ahead of talks around a new pay deal, the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS) have said their members were cut more than other grades during the recession and pay must now be fully restored.

Negotiations around a successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement are due to begin in the coming weeks after the Public Sector Pay Commission publishes its report. Minister For Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe has yet to receive the report from the Commission but it is expected to be on his desk in the coming days.

However, the AHCPS have laid down a marker to Mr Donohoe ahead of pay talks. They have warned that if the State want to attract and retain forward-thinking managers they must be paid “fairly and appropriately”.

The AHCPS published a report on pay and benefits that was conducted by the Institute of Public Administration which found that members’ salaries are between 30% (assistant principal officers) and 60% (principal officers) less when compared with equivalent roles in the private sector.

Speaking at the association’s annual conference in Dublin, general secretary of the AHCPS Ciaran Rohan said members have been subjected to pay reductions, tax hikes as well as increased workloads, serious staffing shortages and changes to their terms, and conditions, many of which were very anti-family friendly.

“The Irish public deserve the highest standards in public services, but to safeguard skilled and effective public services into the future, and to attract and retain forward-thinking managers, they must be paid fairly and appropriately,” he said.

“As the more favourable economic conditions of 2016 have shown, it is possible for us to make progress in seeking restoration and, going forward, to seek to have that restoration accelerated and to get into a normal pay determination process free from political or any other interference.”

Mr Rohan said the axing of flexitime at assistant principal officer level, allied with pay cuts, is providing a disincentive to promotion from the HEO grade.

He added there is a need to break the link between the pay of principal officers and TDs, but political parties are “not prepared” to do so.

“We will continue to draw attention to the manner in which our grades are disadvantaged, specifically for political reasons because of this link,” he said.

It is thought the Public Sector Pay Commission report could recommend an increase in pension contributions. Another option would be to link pensions to inflation, rather than the pay rates in the grade from which workers retire, a move that unions have already come out strongly against.

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