Feature Article
Changes to overnight subsistence
by Niall Shanahan

The Civil Service rate for overnight domestic subsistence allowance has increased, effective from 1st October, following an agreed review.

The Civil Service rate for overnight domestic subsistence allowance has increased, effective from 1st October, following an agreed review. The day rates remain unchanged.


The revised rate of €147.00 replaces the current rate of €133.73.


Due to the exceptionally high cost of hotel accommodation in Dublin, especially at peak periods, a new vouched rate for Dublin was introduced last year. Previously the rate had been capped at €167 – consisting of the overnight rate plus the ’10-hour’ subsistence rate – for which a hotel receipt must be provided.


This has now increased to €147.00 plus the 10-hour day rate of €33.61.


Under the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement (2013), the Government signalled its intention to conduct a review of how travel and subsistence rates are calculated. The agreement committed unions and management to cooperating with the review, and with the implementation of a standardised system of travel and subsistence across the public service.


For more details, the circular from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is available here.

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Second pay adjustment under PSSA kicks in
by Diarmaid Mac a Bhaird

The second pay adjustment provided for in the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) came into effect from 1st October 2018. The adjustment is the second this year, following a 1% adjustment in January.

The second pay adjustment provided for in the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) came into effect from 1st October 2018. The adjustment is the second this year, following a 1% adjustment in January.


Updated salary scales for grades represented by the union, across the unions divisions are now being updated on the Fórsa website. Salary scales for the Education, Civil Service and Local Government divisions are already available, while updates on salary scales for the other divisions will be completed shortly.


Please see the links below for updated scales here:

Main provisions of the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA):

  • 1st January 2018: 1% pay adjustment
  • 1st October 2018: 1% pay adjustment
  • 1st January 2019: Pension levy threshold up from €28,750 to €32,000 (worth €325 pa)
  • 1st January 2019: 1% pay adjustment for those earning less than €30,000
  • 1st September 2019: 1.75% pay adjustment
  • 1st January 2020: Pension levy threshold increased to €34,500 (worth €250 pa)
  • 1st January 2020: 0.5% pay increase for those earning less than €32,000
  • 1st October 2020: 2% pay adjustment
Dispute at agri labs on specialist posts
by Niall Shanahan

A dispute has arisen over specialist lab attendant posts at the Department of Agriculture. Fórsa wrote to the department in September outlining the requirement for full engagement with the union prior to filling the posts.

A dispute has arisen over specialist lab attendant posts at the Department of Agriculture. Fórsa wrote to the department in September outlining the requirement for full engagement with the union prior to filling the posts.


Head of division Andy Pike said both parties are required to engage, under the terms of an earlier arbitration report, on the construct of the grade and duties.


He said any such engagement must include a discussion on staff allowances to ensure that candidates have certainty on the terms and conditions of the new posts.


“The refusal by the Department to engage with Fórsa on these issues is a serious breach of the normal industrial relations process,” he said.


Andy also demanded the withdrawal of correspondence from the Department threatening to reassign or redeploy staff if they didn’t apply for the new posts. The department correspondence also threatened the cessation of allowances.


He explained that any attempt by the department to try and fill the posts would trigger a notice of strike action, for which the union has already balloted.


The issue has now been referred to the National Oversight Body.


Brexit preparations underway in Revenue
by Roisin McKane

Brexit preparations are well underway with the recruitment of additional staff in Revenue a top priority.

Brexit preparations are well underway with the recruitment of additional staff in Revenue a top priority.


Following the Taoiseach's announcement in July of 1,000 new posts to deal with Brexit, discussions began with management to establish a process in which recruitment would take place. 700 of these posts will fall under the remit of Revenue and Customs.


Fórsa official Derek Mullen explained: "Revenue confirmed that, as a priority, 30 to 40 recruits would be required for posts operating as customs facilitators in Dublin Port. These posts will operate at CO, EO and HEO grades." 


In August, Revenue management ran an open competition for these positions through the Public Appointments Service (PAS), without discussion with Fórsa. On foot of this, Fórsa agreed additional internal and interdepartmental competitions.


Derek added: “Revenue ran an open competition for these posts without engaging the union in discussions. This was contested, and as a result, Revenue agreed to increase the number of internal and interdepartmental competitions for these posts, opening up opportunities for promotion for existing staff” 


It's expected that 200 officers will be in training by the end of the year, with up to 600 officers in situ by the end of 2019. These numbers can fluctuate depending on whether we are facing into a 'hard' or 'soft' Brexit.


Derek welcomed the foresight and planning of the Department. “There's no doubt that our members and new staff are preparing for difficult circumstances. In some cases we could have members undertaking a border duty that hasn't been in operation for decades” he said. “It's important however, that Revenue are working hard to get ahead on this, which will hopefully make the transition as manageable as possible.”

Unions secure measures to resolve public service new entrants’ pay issue
by Niall Shanahan

Newly agreed measures on public service new entrants’ pay will mean that public servants will no longer be at a long-term disadvantage based on the year in which they were recruited.

When unions negotiated the Haddington Road Agreement in 2013, they successfully merged the pre-2010 and post-2010 pay scales. The remaining issue to be resolved was that post-2010 recruits had two additional points on their pay scales, which means it takes them two years longer to reach the top of their scale.


The newly agreed measures identify two points on each pay scale - year four and year eight - which new entrant public servants will now skip.


Under the terms agreed in the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) last year, we achieved a commitment to resolve the remaining issue, which has now been brought to a conclusion two years earlier than originally anticipated. This completes the task we began by merging the pay scales in 2013.


The measures will apply on the next increment date falling on or after 1st March 2019.


For more information, a full copy of the agreed measures and an illustrated model of how new entrants measures are to be applied, visit the Fórsa website.

Raise The Roof, not the rent
by Hazel Gavigan

Last week's Raise the Roof  rally took place outside Leinster house. There was a strong Fórsa presence, with branch campaign officers, activists and staff from throughout the country in attendance.

The rally coincided with a cross-party motion in the Dáil calling on the Government to enact legislation to lower rents, make it illegal to evict private sector tenants into homelessness and insert a right to housing into the constitution.


The motion also called for a doubling of the capital expenditure on public housing in Budget 2019 and subsequently passed by a wide margin.


Fórsa was well represented with staff and activists out in full support. Sheila Nunan, president of ICTU was MC and speakers included Orla O’Connor, director, National Women’s Council of Ireland, Síona Cahill, president, Union of Students in Ireland and Fr. Peter McVerry.


Senator Frances Black and singer/songwriter Damien Dempsey performed at the rally.


There are approximately ten thousand people who are homeless in Ireland with children making up more than a third of the numbers in emergency accommodation. This figure does not include ‘hidden homelessness’, which refers to people living in squats or ‘sofa surfing’, women and children staying in domestic violence refuges and people who sleep rough.


Fórsa lead organiser, Joe O’Connor expressed his gratitude in particular to the union’s branch campaign officers after the rally: “They played an integral role in the success of the day both by stewarding the stage and mobilising Fórsa activists to come out in large numbers.”


Congress campaign shows appetite for change
by Niall Shanahan

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ report on its housing lobbying campaign shows strong support among TDs for radical action to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ report on its housing lobbying campaign shows strong support among TDs for radical action to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis.


The lobby campaign focused on TDs in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and independents in government, and sought their support for the Congress Charter for Housing Rights.


The Charter calls for the declaration of a housing emergency, an end to evictions into homelessness, action of security of tenure and rent certainty and establishing a legal right to housing.


The campaign showed the strongest support for the measures outlined in the Charter amongst Fianna Fáil TDs, with the overwhelming majority of the parliamentary party stating they were ‘very supportive’ or ‘broadly supportive’.


There was also support among Fine Gael TDs and some independents for some of the measures. The lobby campaign took place between February and June this year.


Congress President Sheila Nunan said the results of the lobby campaign “showed clear support for a significant and radical change in policy on housing, to tackle the emergency.


“We're told the land is there and the resources can be found. It now seems clear that the political appetite for a change of direction is also there,” Ms Nunan said.


The report is available to download here.

Also in this issue
Careers in Fórsa
Assistant General Secretary (Dublin)

Assistant General Secretary (Dublin)


Fórsa is seeking an assistant general secretary who will be headquartered in our Dublin office. This senior post involves the provision of a wide range of trade union services to Fórsa branches and members. The contract will be offered on a permanent basis subject to a probationary period. The initial assignment will be to provide services to our members in the Civil Service division of the union.


Responsibilities will include union recruitment and organisation as well as negotiations with employers on all matters relating to members’ pay and working conditions.


Applicants should have detailed knowledge and experience of employment law and industrial relations practice, considerable experience of negotiations and of representing groups and individuals, and a demonstrable commitment to trade unionism and social justice. They should also have excellent organisational, communications and team-working skills, be self-starters, IT literate and hold a valid full driving licence. The salary payable reflects the senior nature of this post.


If you think you have the experience, skills, drive and energy for this demanding role please apply with a full CV setting out how your experience and skills meet the requirements of the job to:


The Senior General Secretary, Fórsa, Nerney’s Court, Dublin 1. D01R2C5


To be received by midday on Friday 26th October 2018.


Further information in relation to the duties and requirements of this post is available here.


Fórsa is an equal opportunities employer.

Fórsa Insights podcast - Love in the Wild
by Niall Shanahan

Fórsa Insights is a series of events, talks, film screenings and performances that allows us to explore a range of issues connected to the work of the union and its members. This podcast looks at Lisa Walsh’s play Love In The Wild performed by Anto Seery. Lisa is a social worker and Fórsa member.


In September we hosted a performance of the play at our head office in Nerney’s Court, Dublin. This was followed by a public interview with Lisa and Anto as part of the Fórsa Insights series.



The podcast features some strong language, listener discretion is advised.

Full income inequality assessments needed – Fórsa
by Diarmaid Mac a Bhaird

Fórsa has called for equality impact assessments on changes to welfare and benefit payments, as an upcoming Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) report found budgetary decisions in the past 10 years have had a disproportionate impact on women with children compared to their male equivalents.


Fórsa official and equality officer Andy Pike said the report’s findings demonstrated a need for equality impact assessments when making changes to benefit and welfare schemes.


“We welcome the report’s authors calling for gender impact assessments on tax-benefit policy changes. However, such assessments must be conducted before changes are implemented and should not be limited to gender, and also examine impacts on other groupings such as people with disabilities,” he said.


Andy said Fórsa has a particular interest in seeking equality impact assessments as 75% of the union’s membership are women. He added that seeking the introduction of impact assessments was a central part of Fórsa’s wider equality policy.


The ESRI report, which will be published at the end of this month, examines the gender impact of tax-benefit policy in Ireland over the past 10 years. It says within couples with children, women had less disposable income than men, particularly where incomes were not shared.


It also found that changes to welfare and benefit payments and schemes didn’t have a major gender impact on single men or women without children or couples without children.


You can find more information some of the reports findings here. The report will be published on the ESRI website at the end of October.

Diary marker: Fórsa Women’s Activist Network launch Saturday 3rd November

The launch of the Fórsa Women’s Activist Network will take place on Saturday 3rd November at 11am in our Nerney's Court Office.


This national meeting is the first of a series of new Equality Networks to be established by the Equality Committee over the coming months.


The meeting will be opened by ICTU General Secretary Patricia King and will feature speakers on the gender pay gap, access to flexible working schemes, the role of women within Fórsa and other topics of interest to activists across the union.


Places are available to members on a first come first served basis, lunch will be provided. To book a place please send an email to this address with 'Fórsa Women’s Activist Network' in the subject heading.  


A full programme will be published shortly and made available via a special news bulletin.

Fórsa publishes lobbying records
by Niall Shanahan & Martina O'Leary

Fórsa has submitted its returns to the Lobby Register covering the period from 1st May to 31st August 2018. This brings the union's total number of returns for 2018 to 24.


Lobbying organisations are required to publish their returns no later than 21 days after the end of the relevant reporting period. 


Fórsa submitted 11 returns for the most recent reporting period. The deadline for submissions for this period expired on 21st September.


The latest lobbying returns submitted by Fórsa cover the following matters:

The Regulation of Lobbying Act was signed into law in 2015. Failure to submit a return of lobbying activities carried out during the period by the deadline is a contravention of the Regulation of Lobbying Act.


Enforcement provisions under the act came into effect last year, giving the Standards in Public Office Commission the authority to investigate and prosecute contraventions of the Act and to levy fixed payment notices for late filing of lobbying returns.


Fórsa members who undertake lobbying activity are not required to make a return unless they are lobbying under instruction from the union, such as in the event of a ‘grassroots’ campaign. 


All lobbying activity undertaken by Fórsa staff is reportable, apart from activity classified as ‘excepted communications’ under the legislation.


For more details about the legislation and the register, visit lobbying.ie.


See also: Fórsa trade union profile page on Lobbying.ie.

Fórsa on Instagram
by Roisin McKane

As Fórsa’s social media presence continues to grow we’ve embraced the visual playground of Instagram.


Instagram has become increasingly popular, communicating to audiences using a creative combination of pictures, videos and text, and this year eclipsed Twitter in the rankings of social media popularity.


While its parent company (Facebook) continues to dominate, recent controversies have led to a migration of younger audiences away from the blue giant.


We hope to reach a new and wider audience on Instagram, and that our presence there will be attractive to Fórsa members looking to get involved and engage with the union.


To follow the Fórsa Instagram story, and keep up to date with all the latest union news and updates, click here.