Feature Article
Fórsa magazine out now
Autumn-Winter edition now circulating in your workplace
by Niall Shanahan

The latest edition of Fórsa magazine is now available and circulating in your workplace. In this issue we talk to Fórsa's new general secretary Kevin Callinan about his career, his perspectives on leading the union and the union's priorities in future pay negotiations. We also have the latest on Sláintecare, the school secretaries dispute, the gender profile of the top jobs in the Civil Service, we look at one of the projects supported by Fórsa's inner city fund and a social history of members working at the Courthouse in Skibbereen. Pick up a copy in your workplace or download a PDF copy here.

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Aer Lingus staff reject profit share rec
by Niall Shanahan

Fórsa members at Aer Lingus have overwhelmingly rejected a Labour Court recommendation which proposed the buyout of access to a profit share scheme with a €300 voucher.

Fórsa members at Aer Lingus have overwhelmingly rejected a Labour Court recommendation which proposed the buyout of access to a profit share scheme with a €300 voucher.


The proposal was rejected by cabin crew at the airline, with 96% voting against the proposal. Administrative, professional and middle management grades represented by Fórsa’s IEASA branch also rejected the proposal by an 80% majority.


Fórsa official Ashley Connolly said the proposals fell far short of what the union believed was fair. “Aer Lingus is a highly profitable airline and inflight sales play a huge role in that profitability. Cabin crew are delivering that profitability in addition to their other responsibilities on board each and every flight. The company effectively places no value on that role,” she said.


Fórsa official Johnny Fox added: “We sought to bring fairness and proper recognition to the significant contribution staff make to the success of the company, but the proposed voucher buyout fell far short of what we’d hoped,” she said.


Ashley said the Aer Lingus group of unions are due to meet shortly to discuss the outcome of the ballot, which was also rejected by SIPTU members at the airline.

CHC pilots get pay boost
by Niall Shanahan

The Labour Court has recommended cumulative pay rises over four years of around 11%, on a phased basis, which covers Fórsa members at CHC Helicopters.

The Labour Court has recommended cumulative pay rises of around 11%, phased over four years, for Fórsa members at CHC Helicopters. The recommendation follows a hearing covering pay, rosters, pension, overtime, disability allowances and upgrades at the private helicopter firm, which provides Ireland’s search and rescue service under a Government contract.

The phased payments recommended by the courts are as follows:

• 1st May 2018 – 2.5%
• 1st May 2019 – 2.85%
• 1st May 2020 – 3%
• 1st May 2021 – 2.5%

The union, along with the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association branch and local CHC reps, is recommending the Court’s terms, which include details on maternity pay, overtime, productivity, attendance management, sick pay and death in service. The full recommendation is available HERE.


Fórsa official Ian McDonnell said the union’s case was based on the need for the employer to increase pilot salaries. “This was in order to attract the pilots CHC requires to maintain the contract. The global shortage of pilots continues to be a challenge for all commercial aviation,” he said.

The Court also recommended that the parties review the pilot service agreement over a period of three months. It said any outstanding matters should then be dealt with through the normal industrial relations procedures.

Fórsa wants pay mechanism for all grades
by Diarmaid Mac a Bhaird


The Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) has called for the reintroduction of a review body to examine pay for senior civil and public servants, in order to address recruitment and retention issues.



The Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) has called for the reintroduction of a review body to examine pay for senior civil and public servants, in order to address recruitment and retention issues.


In its final report, published last week, the commission said the existing ad-hoc approach to top-level staff in State organisations was neither desirable nor sustainable.


But Fórsa responded by saying this approach should not be confined to top earners.


The union’s general secretary Kevin Callinan said the report marked the end of the PSPC’s mandate under the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA). But he added that unions and public service management were currently in talks regarding the implications for grades, groups and categories that were not considered by the PSPC, or didn’t benefit from its recommendations.


The PSPC report said a top-level review body was necessary to examine remuneration of senior posts, “given the complexity and variety of posts under discussion, as well as the range of issues affecting them.”


Kevin said the body was essentially calling for a return to the traditional approach to senior public service pay, which was interrupted by the abolition of a pay review body during the economic crisis.


“Historically, an objective evidence-based assessment process informed pay policy for senior public service grades up until 2009. I believe this approach should not be confined to senior posts. It’s needed for all grades covered by public service agreements as part of a new social dialogue structure,” he said.

Ryanair legal action adjourned
by Bernard Harbor

The Commercial Court has adjourned a Ryanair bid to fast-track an action for damages against Fórsa for two weeks.

The Commercial Court has adjourned a Ryanair bid to fast-track an action for damages against Fórsa for two weeks. The damages claim arises from a proposed pilots’ strike, which was halted by a High Court injunction in August.

The union will be back in the High Court today (Thursday) to seek a further stay on Ryanair’s earlier application for the case to proceed to trial on the substantive issues raised by the company. Fórsa’s legal team will argue that the trial should not begin until a mediation, which is currently underway, is completed.

The airline is seeking damages for what it claims were lost bookings and fare reductions introduced after the proposed industrial action was announced. It claims these losses amount to over €13 million.

The union’s legal team said the matter was not suitable for the Commercial Court, and also argued that the High Court adjourned the case last month pending the outcome of the mediation, which is being facilitated by Kieran Mulvey.

A number of mediation sessions have taken place since the first High Court hearing.

Crew ratios to be trialled
by Niall Shanahan

The Labour Court has recommended that cabin crew ratios for new long-range aircraft at Aer Lingus should be trialled for three months to assess their workability.

The Labour Court has recommended that cabin crew ratios for new long-range aircraft at Aer Lingus should be trialled for three months to assess their workability. The recommendation concerns the new A321LR Neo aircraft.


Fórsa official Ashley Connolly said the proposal would see a trial of four crew on all routes for three months. Two routes would have five crew for the trial period, including a cabin services manager.


“The union’s argument at the Court was that the airline’s crewing proposal was unworkable, especially in relation to crew being able to take their breaks on certain flights,” she said.


The union met Aer Lingus management last week and agreed that the trials would take place from November to January, with progress being kept under review.


The Labour Court recommended that there should be union involvement in the trials: “If we can’t reach agreement with Aer Lingus at the end of the trial period, we will go back to the Court using the data gathered from the trials. This has been accepted by both ourselves and Aer Lingus.

“We expect these trials to start in a couple of weeks and run until the end of January. We’ll be reviewing them with the company during this three-month period,” she said.


The trials will cover flights operating between Shannon and Boston, Dublin and Hartford, and Philadelphia and Newark.

Ashley added: “It’s also been agreed that while a senior may be rostered for the flight, they will be offered an acting CSM when operating a Neo during this period. As we discussed at the branch AGM in early October, we believe there’s still a bit of work to do on this issue.”

Also in this issue
Changes to P60 from January 2020
by Hazel Gavigan

From January 2020 employers will no longer be obliged to provide P60 documents to their staff. Instead, employees may have to access their P60 through Revenue’s online system, called myAccount.


The new arrangement marks another in a series of changes introduced by Revenue this year.


Changes introduced by the Revenue Commissioners last January means that every time employers pay their employees, they must report the pay and statutory deduction details to Revenue as part of the payroll process.


The new arrangement has been described as the most significant reform of the PAYE system since its introduction in 1960.


Online access


Fórsa official Geraldine O’Brien explained that the quickest and easiest way to manage tax affairs is through Revenue’s online system, myAccount which has many benefits for PAYE customers.


“Recent enhancements to myAccount allow the user to view their pay and tax details, download a secure pay and tax summary, claim an unemployment repayment and update civil status. Revenue is constantly updating their online services to ensure the public benefits from real time information.


“Pay and tax details reported by employers are also accessible through myAccount. Only pay and statutory deductions are available as employers don’t report non-statutory deductions to Revenue, such as union subscriptions or credit union payments. If you notice any discrepancies between the information shown in myAccount and those on your payslip, you should contact your employer,” she said.


Geraldine described another new feature which allows the creation of a secure document summarising your pay and tax:


“The summary is password protected and is useful for providing proof of income to any bodies, such as a financial institution, a solicitor or local authority. It can be used for the purposes of applying for a loan, mortgage, grants or similar applications,” she said.


One or all of the following can be included in the document:

  • Pay and tax details to date for the current year to date
  • Details of any payments received from employer(s) for the last 1 – 3 months
  • End of year statements (P21s) for the last four tax years.


P60 changes


Geraldine stressed that the most important development to be aware of is that employers are no longer obliged to provide P60s. Instead, they can be accessed via the employment detail summary, through PAYE services on myAccount.


“This document will contain details of pay and statutory deductions for all employments/pensions for the year and will be available in early 2020.


“Revenue will make a preliminary end of year statement available to all PAYE customers from 15th January 2020. This statement will be based on income and statutory deductions reported by all employers during the year and will show whether the correct tax has been paid. A short online return can be completed to claim additional tax credits or declare additional income,” she said.


Revenue has encouraged everyone to register for myAccount to take advantage of these enhancements and make it easier to manage your tax affairs.

Sign up for right to disconnect
by Hazel Gavigan and Bernard Harbor

The Financial Services Union (FSU) has launched a petition in support of legislation establishing the ‘right to disconnect’ – or to switch off from work-related emails and social media outside of reasonable working hours.

Like Fórsa and other trade unions, FSU sees the right to disconnect as a route to better work-life balance in the digital age. Legislation has already been passed in France.

At present, the department of business is reviewing the issue. FSU says it’s important to shape the direction of this review by supporting a call for legislation that would best protect workers.

It says: “If legislation is not introduced then the worst employers, whose workers need it most, will do nothing and will continue to expose workers to a harmful working environment. If you're tired of being 'always on' and would like to see legislation on the right to disconnect, please join the call by signing the petition today.”

You can sign the petition HERE.

Minimum wage increase deferred
by Róisín McKane

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has criticised the employment minister Regina Doherty for her decision to defer the implementation of a 30 cent increase in the national minimum wage.

The rise, which was recommended by the Low Pay Commission in July, was set to bring the national minimum wage for adults to €10.10 an hour – a first-time break of the €10 threshold – but it would still have been significantly lower than the living wage, which stands at €12.30 an hour.

In recent years, Low Pay Commission recommendations have generally been adopted by Government and implemented the following year. The minister linked this year’s deferral to the threat of a no-deal Brexit.

ICTU's general secretary Patricia King said that the decision to defer could only be described as “reprehensible”, and “effectively means that the Government has decided to penalise the 130,000 lowest paid workers of the state.”

Congress has continuously argued for further increases to the minimum wage in the event of a no-deal Brexit, given the likely negative effects on low paid and low income workers.

“Deferring the recommended 30 cent increase will mean that all workers on the national minimum wage will end up paying the price for Brexit,” said King.

For more information on ICTU's position click HERE.

For more information on the living wage click HERE.

Fórsa development school looms
by Bernard Harbor

Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trade Union Congress – the British equivalent of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions – will be among the speakers at Fórsa’s first global solidarity school, which takes place in Dublin on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th November.

The Friday evening will see Frances talk about Brexit developments and their implications for workers here and in the UK.

She will be joined by ICTU’s assistant general secretary, Belfast-based Owen Reidy, and UK Labour MP Tony Lloyd, who is the shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

On Saturday, the conference will hear from Peadar King, the documentary filmmaker behind the RTÉ global affairs series ‘What in the World,’ which is part-funded by Fórsa through its developing world fund.

The event will also feature international campaigners from Justice for Colombia and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. And there will be a session on climate change, featuring one of the Irish students involved in last week’s global climate strike.

There will also be a social event on Friday evening.

The event is being staged by the union’s European and International Network, which was established in 2018 when Fórsa was launched. The group, made up of branch activists and senior elected representatives, says the event is an opportunity to involve more members who are interested in issues like climate action, international affairs, and global solidarity.

Registration details will issue soon. In the meantime, you can register your interest by contacting hgavigan@forsa.ie.

Save the Date: Traveller Network Event
by Niall Shanahan

Fórsa Trade Union’s Equality Committee will launch the Traveller Network event on the 9th November in Sligo Town Hall at 11am.


Speakers on the day include James O’Leary, CEO of INVOLVE and Martin Ward of the Galway Traveller Movement. Further speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.


The launch of the Traveller Network follows on from the launch of previous Fórsa Equality Committee networks, including the Fórsa Women’s Activist Network and the Disability Network.


Fórsa official Lisa Connell explained: “The purpose of the event is to highlight many of the issues that affect Travellers in the workplace, including the depth of structural inequalities facing travellers from accessing the workplace, as well as socio-economic rights and a focus on public policy provisions.


“We’re looking forward to welcoming Fórsa members and Traveller representatives to meet and discuss these issues,” she said.


For further information about the event please contact Lisa Connell.