Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Unions accept pay deal a hard sell

Irish Congress of Trade Unions public services committee chairman Shay Cody holds a draft copy of the agreement
Brendan Howlin took part in talks with unions on a public sector pay deal

The new one billion euro public sector pay deal will be a difficult sell with most workers being asked to support pay cuts, trade union negotiators have warned.

With reductions to wages, overtime and increments and the working week extended, state employees on almost every grade will be asked to vote for lower salaries.

The proposals, to be put to ballot over the next month, led to four significant unions walking out of talks at the eleventh hour on Sunday night.

Shay Cody, Impact general secretary, said that a number of negotiators stayed because they feared pay cuts would have been worse without their input.

"It's a very difficult agreement. In many, many cases it's going to lead to a reduction in the income of public servants, so there's no point in sugaring that particular pill," he said.

Among the more significant changes are staggered pay cuts from 5-10% for workers earning more than 65,000 euro, peaking at 10% for the high earners on 185,000 or more.

Premium rates also got the chop - the Sunday double-time overtime rate is replaced with time and three quarters, while the so-called Twilight premium pay for working 6-8pm is gone.

Elsewhere, the working week will be stretched to 37, 39 or 40 hours for various grades of public servants.

Supervision and substitution payments for teaching staff will be axed under the proposals and top grade public servants will have to give up six holidays over the next three years or offer an equivalent cash deduction from their salary.

The proposed reforms, due to come into force on July 1, are designed to replace the Croke Park agreement and will run until 2016. Results from trade union ballots are expected early or mid-April.

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