Belfast Telegraph

Unions ramp up pressure to reverse wage cuts after gardai secure pay rise

Public sector unions are ramping up pressure on the Government to reverse wage cuts of the last eight years after gardai secured a pay rise.

Several trade union chiefs claimed the offer had set a precedent and called for negotiations to fast-track the restoration of salaries, allowances and other benefits slashed since the recession hit.

Impact, the largest union in the public sector, said the new offer for gardai was a "material change".

"It is in the best interests of all public servants - the weakest as well as the strongest - that their pay and working conditions are negotiated collectively, and that pay restoration is achieved within a coherent agreement that applies to everyone who delivers public services," a spokesman said.

Impact also said it had warned about the dangers of dealing with workers outside the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement and it called for the Government to move immediately on new pay talks.

It said it wanted significant acceleration in pay restoration.

The Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU), which represents about 13,000 people in clerical and administrative jobs in government, semi-states and the private sector, called on the umbrella union organisation Congress to decide on a new campaign to reverse cuts.

General secretary Eoin Ronayne said workers would look at the garda deal and see that the threat of a strike works.

"Government said it hadn't the money but last night it suddenly found it," he said.

It said its members were looking at the garda deal and thinking they work 100 or more hours a year for nothing and that a newly employed clerical officer would be in line for an additional 330 euro a year if the holiday premium payment was applied to them.

The CPSU called for a new approach from Congress to full restoration of pay, removal of the pension levy and an end to lower entry points on the pay scales for new recruits.

The garda deal includes a rent allowance of about 4,500 euro from the start of next year, a 1,459 euro payment for the 15 minute shift-handover period and a 1,500 euro payment for holidays due to the frequency of officers sacrificing days off when called on duty.

It is to be voted on by members of the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.

Siptu vice-president Gene Mealy said the offer will spark expectations from other public sector workers.

"We are in the process of evaluating the Labour Court recommendation in respect of the Garda Siochana," he said.

"Clearly, the recommendation presents opportunities and expectations among some public sector workers. However, with respect to the process in which gardai are engaged, we will be making no further comment pending the outcome of their deliberations on the recommendation."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny warned about widespread pay demands across the public sector.

"The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Paschal Donohoe) does not have an endless pot of money," he said.

Mr Kenny said the Government would reflect on the Labour Court recommendations for pay for gardai but that the Lansdowne Road Agreement would be respected.

The Unite union called for an extraordinary meeting of Congress' public services committee to discuss renegotiation of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Regional co-ordinating officer Richie Browne said the pay deal is not delivering for workers and must reflect the economic recovery.

Meanwhile, Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Mr Donohoe claimed the cost of the garda pay deal - expected to be close to 40 million euro - would be met out of current budgets.

"The cost of the proposed settlement will be met within existing budgetary allocations," they said in a statement.

They also attempted to deflect unions from seeking individual offers by claiming the offer to gardai was made within the limits of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.


From Belfast Telegraph