Negotiations on public service pay recovery are expected to get underway within the next week or so, following the publication of the report of the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) 2017 last Tuesday. The report, which is summarised in this document found that average pay in the public service is now on a par with the private sector, and is 8% lower than in 2008.
IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said the union’s main objective in the talks will be to set a timetable for the quickest possible restoration of the pay cuts and pension levy imposed in 2009-2010. The union will also fight to maintain the existing value of public service pensions.
The Government has said it will seek an increase in employee pension contributions as the so-called pension levy is phased out over time. It was supported in this objective by the PSPC report.
The commission found that public servants employed before 2013 have pensions worth between 12% and 18% more than average pensions in the private sector. The 12-18% range spans actuarial assessments submitted to the commission by the ICTU Public Services Committee (12%) and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (18%).
More helpfully, the commission’s own actuarial review puts the pension gap at between 13% and 14%, which is closer to the union estimate than the employer’s. It said pension arrangements for public servants hired after January 2013 were on a par with private sector averages.
IMPACT will also put the 15 million additional public service working hours, which were introduced under the Haddington Road agreement, on the talks agenda. However the Government says it’s unwilling to budge on this point, which it has defined as a ‘red line’ issue.
Last week’s publication of the PSPC report led the news headlines, and drew some of the standard criticism of public servants and their pay and pensions. IMPACT led the union response with appearances on all the major news programmes, including this defence of public service pensions on RTÉ’s Primetime, and a comprehensive outline of the issues on RTÉ’s Drivetime programme.
IMPACT has also called for equity in the FEMPI wind-down, warning against special deals for particular groups of public servants and calling for increases for lower paid staff who are no longer subject to FEMPI measures. In response to ministerial calls for ‘sustainable’ pay increases, the union said they must also have substance if they were to win the support of union members in ballots.
Read IMPACT’s summary of the PSPC report HERE.
Read the full PSPC report HERE.