Contacts between unions and officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) will continue over the coming weeks with a view to cracking the practical issues involved in shortening pay scales for staff who joined the civil and public service after 2010.
Unions affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) met with officials in Dublin the week before last to open the process. This was one week after Fórsa called on the Government to allocate funds in October’s Budget to begin shortening new entrant pay scales next year.
This would be significantly earlier than envisaged in the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA), which simply committed the Government to explore the issue.
The next round of meetings, between the officers of ICTU’s Public Services Committee and DPER officials, will focus on how to shorten the scales, which vary in length for different grades, Unions also want to ensure that any solution is fair to all new entrants, including those who have now gone beyond the two additional points added to the start of pay scales in recent years.
The April meeting was scheduled following the publication of a DPER examination of the scale of the problem and the cost of resolving it.
Although no money is budgeted to deal with the issue in 2018, Fórsa senior general secretary Shay Cody said he wanted the implementation of an agreed resolution to begin next year.
“This is an equity issue and, while no money has been allocated to resolve it in 2018, Fórsa believes it should be possible to start funding it next year, rather than delaying until 2020 or beyond. Pay equity is a priority for all trade unions, and 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.
The 60,000-plus new entrants now at work make up 19% of all public service workers. DPER says full equalisation of the pay scales would cost approximately €199 million.