A Department of Public Expenditure and Reform analysis of the number and pay position of public service ‘new entrants’ is to be published by the end of March, following pressure from ICTU’s Public Services Committee. The report was originally planned for later in the year as the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) said it must take place within 12 months of the commencement of the agreement.
The new entrant pay scales were introduced without agreement by a previous Government in 2010. The new scales were set at 90% of the pre-existing scale points. This was opposed by unions at the time and no union agreed to the new terms.
The first opportunity to address the issue arose in talks on the Haddington Road Agreement in 2013. Unions secured an agreement to merge the new entrant pay scales with the pre-existing pay scales. The effect of the 2013 improvement was to place the new entrants on the old rates, albeit with two additional incremental points.
The PSSA requires the unions and management to discuss and agree on addressing the issue of the extended scales. Fórsa believes the solution must involve the removal of two increment points from the scale, creating faster progress up the pay scale.
The negotiations will, most likely, focus on which increments are removed. This is complicated by the vast differences in pay scale lengths for different civil and public service grades.
When unions met public service management on the issue last October, officials confirmed that 53,000 workers had been hired since the ‘new entrant’ scales were unilaterally introduced by the government in 2011.
Since that meeting, the department has been gathering data from all sectors to identify the incremental scale points of all new entrants. This should allow unions and management to examine the cost of potential solutions.