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Talks on public sector pay deal to begin at Workplace Relations Commission today

Unions last week accepted an invitation to discuss pay within the sector by Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe.

TALKS ON A new public sector pay deal involving unions and the Government are due to begin at the Workplace Relations Commission today. 

Unions last week accepted an invitation to discuss pay within the sector by Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe.

The Public Service Committee (PSC) of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has said it will concentrate on trying to reach agreement on short-term pay measures to address cost-of-living and labour market pressure.

Announcing the invitation earlier this month, Donohoe said the “opportunity now exists for the parties to intensify efforts to try to agree an appropriate successor agreement to Building Momentum which expires at the end of 2023″.

The ‘Building Momentum agreement‘ was accepted by unions in October 2022, after extensive negotiations between unions and the Government. The deal was brokered under the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis.

Under the plan, employees in the public sector received a 6.5% pay increase, over the 12 months that followed its agreement, in three increments. The final increment took place in October.

Speaking earlier this month on the union’s consideration, Siptu’s deputy general secretary John King said workers want pay increases which “ensure that the value of their pay is not eroded by inflation”.

King said workers also “want a return to normalised industrial relations across the public service”.

He added that members would want to maintain the protective clauses in the Public Service Agreement that prevents any form of outsourcing and secure clauses around service delivery.

The PSC is also seeking the same particular securities ahead of the new negotiations.

The committee previously said it agreed its “priority objectives for a future pay deal in September” which places a “particular emphasis” on securing appropriate pay measures, in response to continuing cost-of-living pressures.

The PSC are also seeking a return to normalised industrial relations processes after unions have “identified the normalisation of ‘post-crisis’ public service industrial relations”.

The group said this clause will be a “key priority” for them moving into talks, particularly seeking “appropriate access” to the WRC and the Labour Court, and the final dismantling of remaining emergency legislation.

Both groups also are seeking to resolve outstanding issues affecting a number of public service grades, groups and categories.

These measures are considered methods to future-proof public services and public service employment.

Donohoe has acknowledged these discussions will be “challenging”, adding that any agreement has to be appropriate to the economic and geopolitical contexts the country is currently facing.

The minister added: “However, I believe that there is scope for all parties to engage constructively towards an agreement that provides valuable certainty over the coming years for the taxpayer, businesses who rely on essential public services and of course our public servants who work so hard to provide them.”