Fórsa and other unions will expect an effective response to increased living costs when negotiations on a successor to the current public service pay agreement get underway next summer, according to the union’s general secretary Kevin Callinan.
He was speaking at this week’s Fórsa consultative council just two days before new figures showed annual inflation at a 14-year high of 5.1%. The biggest factors behind the fastest price acceleration since 2007 were hikes in electricity and other energy costs, as well as transport and rent.
Kevin told the consultative council that, “for the first time in many, many years,” Ireland was witnessing the return of inflation. Politicians and economists believe this is a temporary phenomenon, linked to economic reopening and energy shortages.
“I’m not entirely convinced, and an effective response is needed. “There can be no question that ordinary workers are feeling the increases in their pockets,” said Kevin.
He also pointed out that cumulative inflation of around 6% had occurred during the post-crash years when public service pay bargaining was mostly concerned with restoring wages lost through pay cuts between 2009 and 2011.
Last month, Kevin told the annual conference of defence forces association Pdforra that maintaining living standards against a background of rising living costs would be the priority in future pay negotiations.
“If the return of inflation is sustained over time there will certainly be a renewed focus on the cost of living when negotiations on a new public service deal get underway,” he said
He pointed out that the daily costs borne by workers, particularly the lower paid, are not fully reflected in the Consumer Price Index, which is the standard measure of inflation. “I speak here of rent or mortgage payments, childcare costs, and fuel prices that are set to further rocket. These necessities form very large elements of weekly outgoings for lower and middle income families, regardless of what sector they work in,” he said.
The current two-year public service pay agreement is untypically short, and expires in December 2022. Talks on its successor are expected to get underway in early summer 2021.
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