Public servants to seek restoration of pay rates

The leader of one of the country’s largest public service unions has said public servants may seek the restoration of their pay rates through a reduction in the pension levy rather than a rise in gross wages.

Public servants to seek restoration of pay rates

Impact general secretary Shay Cody said unions had told the Government they would lodge a pay claim if and when the State’s finances “improved to a degree that would lead us to believe that the exchequer could cope”.

“In practical terms, once it is clear that the Government is on target to achieve the Euro requirement of a deficit of less than 3% of GDP in 2015 — and they are predicting that they will — we believe the exchequer will be in a position to cope.”

However Mr Cody, who also chairs ICTU’s public services committee, told his union’s biennial conference in Killarney that public sector unions had to consider how best to develop a pay claim.

“We need to honour the commitment that lower- paid workers should be prioritised, but acknowledge that it will be difficult to secure a critical mass of public servants to support a claim that only applied to those who earn less than €35,000,” he said.

He outlined two ways to approach the issue:

- “Considering whether unions could rally around a flat-rate increase “as a way to deliver on the promise [to lower-paid public servants] while commencing income recovery for all” and;

- Considering whether unions should seek a reduction in the pension levy rather than increases in gross wages.

Mr Cody said public servants had experienced average pay cuts of 14% through the “pension levy” and direct salary cuts, while those earning over €65,000 had experienced a third pay reduction in 2013.

Impact also represents a number of workers in the private sector and Mr Cody told delegates the “pay movements” in parts of that sector was good news for the economy and the exchequer because higher pay delivered more consumer spending and more tax income than retained company profits.

He said it was too early for a return to national agreements, but added: “We will eventually need a national framework for productivity and wage movement in the environment of a single currency and global competition.”

Today, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore will address the conference.

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