Work rate ‘key’ in pay talks

Upcoming talks on pay restoration in the public service must recognise the productivity given by staff and must not come at the expense of further changes to terms and conditions of employment, a senior trade union figure insisted.

Tony Martin, chairman of health and welfare section of Impact told delegates at its divisional conference: “It’s now time for us to stop taking backward steps and move forward again.”

His comments came as Robert Watt secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, was quoted by RTÉ as saying public servants will have to continue to reform the way they work and improve productivity.

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Mr Martin said: “It’s been a difficult two years and we don’t want to see another two years like them. I think we can agree that we don’t want to see another Haddington Road agreement. We don’t want to see another agreement that cuts our pay and has us working longer hours. We’ve had enough of taking backward steps.”

He told delegates representing 30,000 health workers that Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said the pay talks were happening now because the productivity gains made over the last few years had made it possible to look at the issue of pay restoration.

“I think it’s important that public service productivity is recognised,” Mr Martin said.

“Ireland’s population has increased by 350,000 since 2006, while there are 30,000 fewer public servants in Ireland than there were when the crisis hit in 2008.

“At the same time, we’ve responded to the needs of an additional 630,000 medical card holders and the needs of a population that is growing older and in greater need of health services. Our members continue to respond to that demand, demonstrating their deep commitment to public service delivery, and an exceptional record of continuing productivity.”

He said when the union engages in talks “that productivity will speak for itself”.

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