herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Public sector will get €1,000 pay boost with more to come in 2017

Brendan Howlin
Brendan Howlin
Brendan Howlin

ALMOST 300,000 public servants will see their incomes rise by close to €1,000 next year.

The increase comes as a result of an immediate reduction in the deeply unpopular pension levy.

And further similar increases are expected to follow in 2017 as part of the pay deal being thrashed out with trade unions.

The phasing out of the deeply unpopular pension levy and pay increases for lower-paid workers were last night central to the negotiations between trade unions and officials from the department of Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin (inset).

The Government has pledged to ring fence at least €300m in October's Budget in order to slash the pension levy imposed on all workers throughout the public sector.

Sources involved in the talks said the proposal could see all incomes below €30,000 being exempt from the levy, which has been a source of major anger among public servants.

But the Government is also set to promise a fresh round of pay increases in 2017, aimed specifically at low-to-middle income earners.

The hated levy was the first measure introduced under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts 2009-2013, known as FEMPI.

There will also be pay increases for lower-paid workers, the details of which were being thrashed out last night.

A senior Government source insisted, however, that public servants will be expected to engage in reform.

The new draft agreement involves the extension of, and the recommitment to the flexibilities existing in the Haddington Road Agreement, the source said.

"The relationship between pay and reform remains and will not be broken," said a senior source.

The deal will also see workers being given greater flexibility to set their own work hours and more opportunities to apply for promotion.

Unions have also secured agreement surrounding a series of new restrictions on the outsourcing of work.

But in return, the Government has insisted on the introduction of a 'civil service renewal plan', which will outline measures for future reform.

Unions will also agree to solve disputes without the need for strike action and, where possible, through binding arbitration.

A senior union source said the overall shape of the pay deal should be agreed by the weekend.

Both sides are determined to bring a speedy resolution to the talks which could now potentially be signed off by the Cabinet in less than a fortnight.

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