Tens of thousands of teachers who publicly refused to sign up to the new Government pay deal will still receive pay rises on January 1 unless they formally tell their representatives they are rejecting the money.
Department of Finance officials confirmed the situation as it emerged the bill will also give TDs a pay rise in 2021 — but crucially block any cabinet member from receiving an increase unless they specifically table a new law seeking more money.
Under the Public Service Pay and Pensions Bill, unions which have signed up to the agreement will be given pay increases of between 6.2% and 7.4% over the next three years.
For the first time in Irish history, four unions which did not sign up — the three teachers unions and Unite — will be treated differently than their compatriots, with their increases officially delayed by nine months.
However, while the deal is meant to be water-tight, senior Department officials privately said last night the four unions falling outside the agreement will still receive their increases from January 1 if they do not formally request not to be given the money.
This is because the Government will consider all unions to have signed up to the deal unless the ICTU tells it specific unions have asked the umbrella group not to include them, with the ICTU only able to do so if a union says it wants to opt out of the increases.
The situation is understood to be an attempt to “save face” for the Government, unions and the ICTU by allowing Government to claim all groups are, in effect, complying with the new law, union bosses to say there has been no split and protesting unions to claim they have won a deal for their members.
However, it has been stressed that the pay increases will be immediately removed if the four unions which remain outside the pay deal take strike action which will breach the deal or do not take up parts of the new working arrangements.
The move emerged as public sector pensions up to €34,000 will become exempt from the effect of the pension reduction from January 1 at a cost of €90m.
Meanwhile, as previously reported by the Irish Examiner, the public pay deal will see TDs receive pay increases in 2021 in line with other public sector pay brackets.
However, crucially, it also makes it clear that no member of cabinet — including the Taoiseach or Tánaiste — will be able to receive a pay increase until at least 2022 unless they specifically table a new bill seeking to change the law and give them more money.
The de facto cabinet pay freeze has been seen as a further attempt by the Government to calm criticism of the new pay deal and lessen claims they are out of touch with ongoing financial problems in the country.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved