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ICTU has warned that it will used a prepared ballot for industrial action, if nessicary. Brian Lawless
Pay deal

Donohoe claims €2.9 billion pay deal was offered to unions, who say agreement 'lacks credibility'

The deal would include a 12% increase in pay for low-wage workers, the minister said.

LAST UPDATE | 11 Jan

UNIONS WERE OFFERED a pay increase of €2.9 billion last night in pay talks that failed to reach an agreement, according to public expenditure minister Paschal Donohoe.

Donohoe said those on the lowest incomes working in the public service would be set to benefit “by around 12%”.

Earlier talks between the Government and trade unions were adjourned at around 3am this morning after the two sides failed to reach a deal. 

Kevin Callinan, the lead union negotiator and the general secretary of the Forsa union, said that the opening offer from the Government side in this latest round of talks was “extremely disappointing”.

“The fact remains that there’s a substantial gap between the parties in relation to pay,” he added.

However, Donohoe told reporters today that the offer made to unions last night was considered a “very significant proposal” by government.

He detailed that offer would total increases of “just over €2.9 billion” over two years with 8% increases over that period. He added that the aim is to ensure those on lower incomes see increases of over 12%.

Callinan said, in a statement this afternoon, that the difference between what was offered in the ‘Building Momentum agreement’ and inflation has resulted in a 19% gap in the difference of pay to public sector workers.

He added that the revised pay offer would “fail any test of credibility in a ballot of union members”.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said the deal reflects “lack of preparedness” by government to complete a “sustainable and robust multi-year pay deal” and “undermined perceptions of the Government’s approach to the process of securing a new agreement”.

Callinan said: “In contrast to its recent measures to address the cost-of-living challenge on the National Minimum Wage and social protection payments, where it has demonstrated a real pragmatism, its approach to completing a public service pay agreement lacks credibility.”

John King, secretary general of trade union Siptu said the offering would have only averaged to a €5 per week increase – before deductions – for low-wage workers and a €10 per week increase to those on middle-incomes in the first year.

King claimed the deal “failed the basic test of creating a robust agreement in the face of a continuing cost-of-living crisis”.

General Secretary of nursing and midwives union INMO Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the agreement undermines the months of meeting and work by the stakeholders that has already been discussed.

Ní Sheaghdha claimed that a “significant gap on pay measures between both sides remains.”

General Secretary John Boyle of teaching union INTO said: “We remain focused on returning to the negotiations to ensure we can complete a deal that is robust enough to endure the 30-month period envisaged.”

Donohoe said: “That is the latest efforts that I have made now in a process now that has taken many many months to find a way to reach agreement on public pay within our economy and within our country.”

The minister said earlier that he is “disappointed” after public sector pay talks between the Government and trade unions failed to reach a new deal after a late night of intensive negotiations.

Donohoe said: “What I would ask now is that the representatives of the unions reflect on the magnitude of the proposal that was made.”

ICTU’s Public Services Committee (PSC) has claimed this afternoon that the wording of a ballot for industrial action has been agreed upon, with unions poised to commence a ballot should it become necessary in the coming days.

In a statement after talks concluded in the early hours of the morning, Donohoe said that he was “disappointed” that public service pay discussions have not yet delivered an agreed outcome.

“I recognise that all stakeholders have been involved in lengthy and challenging discussions over the last number of weeks,” he said.

He added: “At the outset of these discussions, I gave an early commitment, in good faith, to repeal remaining FEMPI legislation in an effort to generate goodwill and remove any barriers to achieving a multi-annual agreement.”

The talks between the Government and public sector trade unions had stalled back in December, just days before the most recent agreement expired at the end of last year.

Donohoe said the Government wants to reach an agreement that is the “correct balance” between investment in public services and being “fair and affordable”.

The 19 trade unions on the PSC of the ICTU are due to meet on today to sign-off on the wording of ballots for industrial action if there is no new deal.

There are more than 300,000 public servants in Ireland across 17 departments.

Includes reporting by Press Association

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