Action on new entrants must be fast-tracked
by Bernard Harbor

Fórsa has called on the Government to allocate funds in October’s Budget to begin shortening pay scales for public service ‘new entrants’ next year. This would be earlier than originally envisaged in the current public sector pay deal, the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA).


Speaking at the union’s Civil Service Division conference in Killarney last week, Fórsa joint general secretary Tom Geraghty accepted that no money was budgeted to resolve the injustice in 2018.


“While it is correct to say that no monies have been allocated to do this in 2018, I believe that Ireland’s strengthening economic and exchequer recovery means it should be possible to start funding it next year, rather than delaying until 2020 or beyond. That would require funds to be allocated in October’s Budget,” he said.


Tom and other officers of ICTU’s Public Services Committee will meet senior Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) officials to discuss the matter on Friday (27th April). The talks are taking place under the PSSA agreement, negotiated last summer, which allows for an “examination” of the new entrants’ pay issue.


Friday’s meeting is likely to be the first of a series of engagements dealing with the practicalities of equalising the length of pay scales. The Government has not conceded Fórsa’s call for some money to change hands next year, despite recent media reports that pay adjustments may be “on the way” for new entrants.


The union has also cautioned that media reports of payments averaging €3,300 a year are overblown, as this figure includes employer costs – like employers’ PRSI payments – which do not appear in pay packets.


The term ‘new entrants’ refers to those employed in the civil and public service since January 2011. Their pay scales are currently two points longer than those of other staff, which means it takes them two years longer to get to the top of their pay scale.


Negotiators must confront the technical challenges presented by the fact that the length of pay scales varies widely across the civil and public service. Unions also want to ensure that any solution is fair to all new entrants, regardless of how long they have been employed.


Tom said pay equity was a priority for all trade unions, which had addressed the inequity in various national pay talks. “Every bit of progress in addressing this injustice has been achieved by unions collectively, through national pay negotiations and public service pay agreements,” he said.

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