A senior Fórsa official has called on the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) to press on with examinations of recruitment and retention difficulties in all parts of the public service where it has identified issues, now that it has concluded its work on nurses and medical consultants.
Head of the union's Health and Welfare division, Éamonn Donnelly also warned of pressure for further pay claims if some groups of workers were to be granted pay benefits beyond those set out in the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA).
The PSSA applies to most staff in non-commercial semi-state organisations, and to workers across the civil and public service.
Éamonn’s comments echoed warnings that the union made earlier this year in the context of recruitment and retention problems in the civil service and the health sector. Earlier this year, Donnelly said no profession or union had “a monopoly” on the issue, and he warned the Government to be even-handed in its response to the pay commission’s work.
Last April, Fórsa’s civil service conference heard that the sector is struggling to recruit staff in many areas because salaries are not keeping pace with those available in comparable private sector jobs. State bodies are finding it difficult to recruit a wide range of staff including cleaners, solicitors, meteorologists, radio officers, technical agricultural officers, valuers, Oireachtas researchers, translation staff, and special education needs organisers.
Union official Andy Pike told the conference that service quality was being strained because of staff shortages, and he called on civil service management to be given the flexibility to pay staff above the usual entry rates, where necessary, in order to attract suitably qualified staff.
“The problem is starkest in professional and technical areas, but it’s not confined to these specialisms. Some civil service bodies have even struggled to hire cleaners in recent months,” he said.
Fórsa has already identified a range of civil service grades where public bodies are struggling to hire in its submission to the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC), which is examining recruitment and retention problems in parts of the public service.
A motion to the conference said changes to starting pay arrangements introduced in some parts of the civil service in 2010 meant that, in a tightening labour market, management was now trying to recruit new staff at salaries €20,000 below those paid at the height of the economic crisis.
The Public Service Pay Commission’s examination of recruitment and retention issues was one of the measures won by unions in the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA). The commission has been asked to establish the extent and nature of recruitment and retention problems and, where they exist, to recommend measures to address them.