Private sector demands €1,000 pay hike

Unions have demanded that private sector workers receive a €1,000 pay hike next year.

Private sector demands €1,000 pay hike

The call for a pay increase across the private sector comes as the Government hardened its stance around any renegotiation of public sector wages.

Ministers agreed yesterday there would be no early renegotiation of the Lansdowne Road agreement despite an ultimatum from Siptu president Jack O’Connor that the union would ballot its 60,000 members for industrial action if new national pay talks are not announced by tomorrow.

The Cabinet yesterday reiterated its commitment to the Lansdowne Road agreement despite the escalating public pay crisis which now involves gardaí, teachers, junior doctors, and nurses.

Private sector unions are to seek a 4% pay rise for their members in 2017, said John Douglas, chairman of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ private sector committee.

The decision to seek the pay rise was taken after Ictu’s private sector committee received an economic briefing from the Nevin Economic Research Institute.

Ibec, which represents business and employers, dismissed the demand as “crude opportunism”.

Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy said: “Attempts to hold the country to ransom by collusion between public and private sector unions must be resisted.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil yesterday that the Government “will not sacrifice the hard-won gains that have been achieved by the people in recent years”.

Responding to questioning by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, he said the Government would “stand by” the Lansdowne Road agreement.

Mr Kenny said Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe “does not have the moneys being demanded, so there is a need, in everybody’s interests, for a well-managed process and strategy by which these matters can be discussed in detail and a pathway forward negotiated”.

Separately, junior health minister Finian McGrath said spending on public services cannot be cut to pay for wage demands.

“I’m not going to take any hits in relation to services for disabilities, cystic fibrosis, or people on trolleys,” he said. “They’re my three issues and they’re my key issues — and we have to stick to the plan in relation to public services.”

Junior sports minister Patrick O’Donovan said that “there is no crock of gold at the end of the rainbow” when it comes to finding additional money to fund pay increases for public workers, adding that “the rainbow will come to a very abrupt end if we don’t manage it”.

“There is a finite amount of money, there are competing demands,” said Mr O’Donovan.

“There is no additional money there and we have to work within the confines of what we have available to us, we have to work within the confines of the existing agreement.”

Fianna Fáil called on the Government to “show leadership” on the escalating public pay crisis by outlining a clear plan for how to address growing strike threats.

Dara Calleary, its public expenditure spokesman, made the comment as he said his own party is open to listening to union “proposals” to increase public sector pay, and may be willing to see negotiations “happen faster” than planned.

Though insisting it is time for Fine Gael to show “backbone”, he denied that any openness to early talks — which could begin as soon as April, despite being planned for later next year — would undermine the public sector pay commission that Fianna Fáil had requested.

“Government need to lead, that is their job, and we want to see them lead and lay out what their plans are,” said Mr Calleary.

Richie Browne of the Unite trade union said it is “clear” the Lansdowne Road agreement is not delivering for workers and must be replaced “as soon as possible”.

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