Talks to begin on two-tier pay in public sector

Government and unions to discuss disparity which adversely affects over 60,000 ‘new entrants’ to system

The Government and unions are to enter into talks on the two-tier pay system in the public sector which has adversely affected more than 60,000 new State employees since the height of the financial crisis.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has published a report examining the “salary issues” for those public servants recruited since January 2011.

Since that time there have been 60,500 “new entrants” - equating to 19% of the public service workforce.

The Departmental report confirms that in the period between 2009 and 2014 there was a decrease of €3.7bn or 21% in the public service pay bill and that €2.1bn of that came from the FEMPI measures introduced by the Government.

A large part of that reduction was down to the National Recovery Plan in November 2010 which required all public servants to start on the minimum point on the scale and a 10% reduction in the pay of all new entrants to the public service.

While the unwinding of the pay reduction has already begun under the 2018-2020 Public Service Stability Agreement, the two additional scale points for staff employed since 2011 remain.

Following the publication of yesterday’s report. Paschal Donohoe said the costs associated with a two-point incremental adjustment for the 60,500 staff identified would be “significant”, at approximately €200m. He said that equates to an additional €3,301 on average for new entrants.

The Minister said the report highlights the considerable complexity, scope and costs associated with the matter as it impacts on hundreds of salary scales.

In an apparent attempt to dampen expectations of staff representatives in the forthcoming negotiations, the Minister also pointed out that the reduced pay points have not prevented “significant” recruitment to the public service since 2011 and that account will need to be taken of the “significant” costs involved.

Shay Cody, chairman of the Public Service Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said unions want to see the length of new entrants’ pay scales reduced by two points to improve their incomes and equalise the time it takes to reach the top of pay scales.

“We acknowledge that any solution is complicated by the fact that the length of pay scales differs widely across the public service, but the aim of this process is to find a solution that works,” he said.

The Minister gave no indication as to when talks between the two sides, which began in October, will resume.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland said it was essential they begin to ensure pay equalisation can be implemented in a short time frame.

It said on average, post 2010 entrants to the teaching profession earn €4,000 less per year than a 2010 entrant with the same qualifications and experience and that applications for second level teaching courses had dropped significantly since the introduction of differential pay scales.

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