National Pay Talks 2017

June 9:  Pay talks Update

Please see attached the final full text of the Proposed New Extension to the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Public Service Stability Agreement (Proposal)

Table of Benefits, Public Service Stability Agreement (Proposal)


June 8:  Pay talks Update

 

Extension to Landsdowne Road Agreement

Government and unions late last night worked out an extension to the Landsdowne  Agreement - to run from January 2018 to December 2020. The government, having played poker for two weeks on the issue of pay in particular, finally put its cards on the table,following insistence from the unions’ side that pay restoration was imperative to deliver an extension of Landsdowne road.

The main effect of the proposals by 2020 will be to:

  • Provide 73% of public servants with over 7% salary restoration/increase
  • Extract 90% of public servants from FEMPI 
  • Remove about a quarter from the FEMPI pension levy system.

In addition IFUT has negotiated a number of very important, third-level specific concessions on gender equality, researchers and implementation of Cush report on precarious working.

On Pay and the Pension levy the specific details are:

  • 1st January 2018: 1% pay adjustment
  • 1st October 2018: 1% pay adjustment
  • 1st January 2019: Pension levy threshold up from €28,750 to €32,000 (worth €325pa)
  • 1st January 2019: 1% pay adjustment for those earning below €30,000
  • 1st September 2019: 1.75% pay adjustment
  • 1st January 2020: Pension levy threshold increased to €34,500 (worth €250pa)
  • 1st October 2020: 2% pay adjustment.

The combined pay and pension levy adjustment will be worth 7.4% to those earning €30,000 a year or less up to 2020.

Those earning between €50,000 and €55,000 will benefit by 7%

Those between €55,000 and €80,000 will benefit by between 6.6% and 6.9%.

Pensions

There will be no change in the value of pensions. In addition:

  • No move to CPI link for increases over lifetime of the agreement.
  • Pay-pension link to continue.
  • No career average calculation for future service.
  • Highest additional pension contribution for those on ‘fast accrual’ pensions
  • Lowest for post-2013 entrants in new ‘single’ pension arrangement.

Third-level specific issues:

The Agreement process allowed for very useful sectoral discussion on a range of issues. IFUT devoted considerable time and effort to explaining and seeking advances on key areas of gender equality, researchers and implementation of specific proposals from the Cush report.

  • Gender Progression:

Under Art 1. 4 of the Agreement on Work-Life Balance public sector management has been given a clear obligation to progress gender equality.

Specifically there is a requirement that: ‘management in each sector will… establish mechanisms to monitor progress on relation to gender balance in career progression.’

It adds that ‘disputes over local and sectoral implementation of work-life balance policies should be processed through normal dispute resolution processes.’  This should help to ameliorate the increasing tendency of management to rush to the High Court on what are basically IR issues.

Cush and researchers are dealt with by separate understandings outside the scope of the formal Agreement.

  • On Cush:

There is an acceptance of undue delays regarding establishing an Adjudicator process on the issue of fixed-term and part-time work in lecturing.

There is a commitment by the WRC and the Education Oversight Body that the relevant employers appoint an Adjudicator no later than September 2017.

  • On Researchers:

The Oversight Group accepted the need for a discussion between IFUT and the IUA regarding researchers’ issues and has agreed to facilitate this process.

Given the significant footdragging and lack of appreciation evident on these issues for a number of years these developments represent significant progress and an opportunity for issues to be finally addressed and resolved

Additional Provisions:

There are a number of other general provisions in the Agreement including:

  • No change in outsourcing protections
  • No change in working hours, but facility to revert to pre-Haddington Road hours with commensurate pay adjustment
  • No extension of Saturday working: Facility to review rostering arrangements for groups, but no change without agreement
  • An end to pension levy on non-pensionable earnings, including overtime
  • Process to address longer pay scales for new (post 2010) entrants
  • No increase in professional fees over lifetime of deal.

June 7 :  Pay talks update

Pay talks resumed yesterday with a presumption on the unions’ side that, after a three day break and with the ‘Leo’ champagne out of the way, the government would put an end to the groundhog days of last week by finally tabling specific proposals on pay and pensions for consideration.

It turned out to be more a case of : Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard - but still won’t tell anyone exactly how bare it is!

Talks resume again this afternoon and unless the government lays its cards on the table on the main issues, there will be very little left to talk about.

Why has the government prevaricated for so long?  One consideration is that, with limited options from their perspective, they wish to present unions with a ‘smoke that or give up the fags’ scenario.

The aim is to conclude discussions today, possibly with a late night session. But if the government side overplays its hand with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude, we risk either having to resume the talks later this week - or having no pay deal whatever.

IFUT and indeed others on the union side are totally focused on getting the maximum restoration of cuts introduced under FEMPI - and that will be our prime focus in the talks from here on. The time for government dithering is over.

A second reason why the government may have prevaricated on tabling specific pay proposals may relate to the very large number of sectoral discussions taking place - on issues that in a number of cases may have direct or indirect cost follow-ons. It may be that Pascal’s calculator is doing the sums on these before the big picture emerges.

Out of these sectoral discussions IFUT is reasonably happy that the talks will at last produce some useful agreement on gender equality and career progression initiatives.

We are also happy that our emphasis on Cush, Precarious Employment and on Researchers is gaining some traction in a hugely complex set of discussions. Certainly we feel IFUT has punched well above our weight re our specific concerns.

But make no mistake, the big ticket items of pay and pensions are still far from being resolved and there is no certainty on the type of agreement that the government is seeking or may demand to impose on the basis of ‘time restraints’.

As we enter Day 12, no doubt our likely new Taoiseach will devote increasing attention to progress and outcomes. Whoever the Ministers following the forthcoming Cabinet reshuffle, An Taoiseach will not change. No doubt he will be extremely anxious to ensure that the government negotiators make an honest, if belated attempt to reach the best possible Agreement for eventual balloting by union members countrywide. 


June 6 - Second Update on Pay Talks

Pay talks resumed this morning and have continued during the day with a teasing out and discussions of proposals from the government side. While the negotiations remain confidential, the general tenor of the proposals is not substantially different what has been suggested and outlined in previous briefings.

Progress has been generally slow. While the government side is anxious to work into the night to finalise proposals, IFUT feels that the slow progress so far means the talks will probably require a further day.

It may be that the election of a new Taoiseach and likely new Ministers in many portfolios, that the government is treading extra carefully as the talks head towards make or break stage. The government side are certainly putting off the crunch discussions for as long as possible. As a result there is still no further clarity on the exact nature of the likely outcome on pay and pensions as well as on outsourcing, the third major issue in these talks.

We will provide a further update as substantial issues develop or first thing tomorrow.

 

June 6 - IFUT Update on pay talks

Pay talks resume this morning with unions still waiting for specific proposals from government and management on the key areas of pay and pensions.
 
With the talks already past their scheduled conclusion date, it is expected the government will finally table written proposals today.
 
Government has already indicated it can only identify €200m from the fiscal space and that not all of this will be allocated to pay.
 
The scale and timing of pay improvements and which categories of staff will have to pay more for their their pensions will be specific cost issues to be discussed and resolved.
The government will seek to horse trade. For example, there are likely to be demands for a pension payment hike for some public-service staff to allow an overall rolling-back of the current public service pension levy.
Outsourcing has already been raised as a ‘red line’ issue by some unions and this matter is likely to come into far sharper focus during today.
In addition to dealing with all of the above, IFUT will be seeking consideration of three issues of specific relevance to third-level education. - implementation of proposals contained in the Cush Report, the rights of Researchers, and greater measures to address gender equality in the workplace.
The nature of the talks process is such that Cush and Researcher issues will need to be addressed by a parallel process to the actual talks while proposals relating to gender discrimination are likely be dealt with in the formal talks sessions.
Today’s discussions do not kick off till 11am, so it is likely to be into the afternoon before the course of these discussions become clear.
With the pressure to reach a conclusion - or not - now really on, today’s discussions may well run into the evening. IFUT will provide a second update later today as further details begin to emerge.
Yours sincerely,
Mike Jennings, General Secretary
Joan Donegan, General Secretary-Designate

 


June 3 - IFUT Update on pay talks from Friday June 02

Ten Days in. Ten days that didn’t shake the world!  Friday was very much another day of shadow boxing as the union side still awaited specific proposals from government and management on pay and pensions.

But a new Taoiseach and the bank holiday weekend were clearly more on their mind.

There was some ongoing work on redrafting text on non-pay issues but this also has to be completed.

Given that Friday was initially intended to be ‘make or break’ day on the talks, the government’s cavalier approach to making any progress bodes poorly for progress when talks resume on Tuesday.

Among the unknown unknowns, there are some things we do know.

The government insists there is a pot of just €200m in their ‘fiscal space’ for 2018. Divide that by 300,000 public servants - with the liklihood that not all of the €200m will be available for pay - and you soon get an indication of the government’s thinking on what should constitute a ‘deal’

As per yesterday’s blog, Paschal Donohue and Simon Harris have clearly checked it on their own calculators, but decided to stay mum on the figures.

While the government have to date been somewhat silent on pensions, the employer side have been batting for continuation of the pension levy to maintain the ‘sustainability’ of public service pensions.

While not directly relevant to IFUT, the issue of outsourcing of public services to the private sector is also looming large as a conflict point. Outsourcing is generally seen as a means to either directly or indirectly drag down wages for everyone in its wake.

Pay, pensions and outsourcing are therefore the three ‘biggies’ to be seriously addressed in the talks.

But let’s take a positive look at things as we head into the holiday weekend. The fact that the government has effectively made no specific proposals on pay and pensions yet means they have at least not yet hung themselves on a petard.

It creates some scope for very hard bargaining and negotiation indeed from next Tuesday onwards!

 


 

June 2nd  - IFUT Update on pay talks from Thursday June 01

Nine days in. But yesterday (Thursday) it was more a case of trying to listen to what was being said in the neighbour’s house than your own.  Leinster House to be more precise!

In the Dáil Minister Pascal Donohue said it would cost €209 million a year to provide equal pay to public servants recruited since 2011 on lower pay scales. Despite declining so far to table any written proposals on key issues like pay and pensions at the pay talks, the Minister has clearly been busy with his calculator recently.

He based the above figures on a €70m costing done for the education sector, and had done a quick tot to work out the overall projection.

The Minister did then brighten up to say he was very pleased with the quality of graduates being attracted to the public sector. 

But he didn’t seem to see any link between that and the need to provide decent pay and conditions for the overworked and underpaid university staff who continue to make this possible.

A little further down the road, at the IMPACT Health Conference in Wexford actually, Health Minister, Rhymin’ Simon Harris, was also on his calculator - and on message. 

Public Service pay makes up 31% of total current expenditureand any future public service pay agreement will have to accept the state’s limited ability to pay, he warned glumly. 

Putting down the calculator to put his head in his hands, he added that any pay increases to follow Lansdowne Road would affect the amount of money available for health.

Yawn. Yawn.

Back at the pay talks there were, err, not really any talks. Skirting around the issues and a few break-out sub-groups on sectoral issues were the highlights, but nothing worth wasting ink on.

Today (Friday) the talks head into what was initially meant to mark the concluding day of discussions. Instead, it will be a day for setting the scene for the beginning of substantive talks next Tuesday following the bank holiday.

 

The Government side can’t much longer continue to dodge thecore issues of pay restoration and pensions.

 


 

June 1 - IFUT Update on pay talks from Wednesday May 31

Eight days in, yesterday (Wednesday) saw, at last, the first tentative steps towards the second ‘written’ phase of the pay talks.

The first early written drafts on the non-pay issues were presented by management, based on earlier verbal tabling of their suggestions. Unions tabled demands for more consistency in the application of family-friendly arrangements across the public services and IFUT was successful in incorporating a mechanism to monitor career progression into the draft text of the document.

The big issues of pay, pensions and pension costs were still being dodged, however.

The Government has proposed that potential small outsourcing projects, allowed under the Croke Park Agreement of 2010, should now be exempt from current restrictions up to €10m.

What defines ‘small’?  Unions were extremely disappointed at management’s first proposals, which repeated a desire to effectively further reduce existing protections.

In addition, the Government is suggesting the insinuation of potential savings from cheaper labour into the cost-benefit analysis for outsourcing services. This may be a sly and cynical attempt to force a further rush to the bottom on pay for all employees - currently labour cost savings cannot be taken into account linked to outsourcing.

This is likely to be a redline issue for unions in the days ahead.

The Government also confirmed its intention to seek extension of the working week to include Saturday as a normal day for public servants.

The talks may be in their eighth day but we still have no costed proposals on potential pay rises or increases in pension contributions.

The Government continually repeats its limited financial room for negotiation in 2018.

Despite no formal written proposals yet, it seems government, when they eventually put pen to paper, will be seeking delays in full restoration of the pay cuts and that these be phased to give larger increases only at the end.  How long the Agreement will run for is also not yet clear.

Management is tending towards linking productivity to pay discussions. The unions will be demanding that pay restoration be a stand alone discussion and have, as an example, rejected demands from the other side to ease restrictions on outsourcing of public services.

The overall slow progress towards tabling of written proposals means that it will now be into next week before ‘real’ discussions will begin.

It had initially been hoped that agreement could be reached by the original target date of this Friday. This is highly unlikely and with no talks over the Bank Holiday, the post Landsdowne Road landscape will now not become clear until further into June.