Workers who reject pay deal may lose out on increases

Workers who vote to reject the widely accepted new public sector pay deal may be frozen out of pay increases and other benefits and face financial penalties, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has warned.

Workers who reject pay deal may lose out on increases

The warning puts teachers on a collision course with the Government after two unions voted to reject the deal and a third, which has yet to ballot members, has also recommended rejection.

Public sector unions affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) voted by more than 80% yesterday to pass the deal which comes into effect from January 1.

The Public Sector Stability Agreement (PSSA) will boost their pay by more than 6% over the next three years, increase pension levy thresholds and restore some working hours arrangements affected by austerity.

However, while the deal was backed by almost a dozen ICTU unions, including Siptu and Impact, the two largest in the country, teachers belonging to the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), along with members of Unite, rejected it. The TUI refuses to be bound by the majority ICTU vote.

Some unions have yet to ballot their members. The ASTI has recommended its teachers reject the deal but the Garda Representative Association (GRA), which negotiates outside of ICTU, has asked rank-and-file gardaí to back it. Mr Donohoe welcomed yesterday’s vote.

“The benefits within this agreement will be made available to those inside this agreement,” he said.

Mr Donohoe said his officials would meet teachers’ unions in the coming weeks and he would wait until all ballots were completed before going to Cabinet with proposals for dealing with those who put themselves outside the agreement.

Under previous public sector pay deals, workers in unions that rejected them had pay increments that are a normal part of their career progression suspended. Mr Donohoe indicated the same policy applied now.

“In relation to increments, the benefits in this agreement will be made available to those inside this agreement,” he said. “Increments and any other matters will be dealt with in the context of that spirit.”

Under the PSSA, workers are due a 1% raise in January and a further 1% raise in October 2018. Increases in pension levy thresholds and further wage increases will be staggered over 2019 and 2020 for other grades and there will also be universal pay rises of 1.75% and 2%.

Non-pay measures in the agreement include safeguarding against the outsourcing of public services, an end to pension levy payments on overtime and an option to return to pre-austerity working hours.

The Government has argued the deal would remove 90% of public sector workers from the FEMPI austerity measures implemented during the recession.

The TUI said it could not accept the deal without action to end the two-tier pay system which sees new entrants to the teaching profession start on pay scales below existing members.

“We note the overall position of the PSC, but it is our longstanding policy that we will make our own sovereign decision on matters affecting terms and conditions of employment and not be bound by an aggregate vote of unions,” it said.

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