herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

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

Public sector

Trade unions are "optimistic" and "confident" that the public sector pay talks will draw to a close today ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

Union sources said that the talks, which concluded shortly after 2am, finished as "it just ran too late".

Almost 300,000 public servants are likely to see their incomes rise by close to €1,000 next year as the Government moves to tackle the pension levy and introduce pay hikes for the lower paid.

It is understood that the final documentation was "put together" in the early hours of this morning and then had to be sent to management for consideration.

"We made very good progress yesterday. At 2am they called time on it and said come back in at 10am," one source said.

"We started on May 12. The goal here was to finish by the end of the month and with the amount of progress we have made this week, we are certainly on schedule to do that.

confident

"We are here now in the last working day of the week. I would be reasonably confident that we would bring this to a conclusion today."

A spokeswoman for Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin (inset) today described the talks as "constructive".

On top of the pay restoration next year, increases are also due in 2017.

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

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

Sources involved in the talks said that 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 since its introduction.

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.

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

reform

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 re-commitment to the flexibilities existing in the Haddington Road Agreement, the source said.

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