Two main parties’ spending plans spell real wage stagnation for public servants
Ireland’s largest public service union said today (Monday) that it expects to negotiate a successor to the current public service pay agreement once a new Government is formed after the election. Responding to reports over the weekend, a Fórsa spokesperson said:
“The current pay deal – the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) – expires in December 2020 and we have raised the need to negotiate a successor with all the main political parties. It would be wrong to pre-empt the outcome before negotiations even open.
“However, the figures that have emerged in the general election campaign suggest that the two largest parties are budgeting for continued public service real wage stagnation. They suggest annual increases of, at most, between 1.3% and 2.1% at a time when the CSO says average private sector earnings rose by nearly 4% in the year to September 2019, and when experts, including the union-backed Nevin Economic Research Institute, are predicting annual wage growth of 3.5% or more in the coming years.
They suggest annual increases of, at most, between 1.3% and 2.1% when experts are predicting annual wage growth of 3.5%.
“We would be facing into a very difficult negotiation if both the main political parties are budgeting to hold back real public service wages for another half-decade.”
In its general election materials, Fórsa has stressed the need for inflation-plus increases to reflect the fact that economic improvements have run ahead of agreed pay provisions over the last three years. It also called on parties and candidates pledge to resolve remaining “two-tier” measures – including extra working hours – that were introduced during the economic crisis.
The union’s general secretary Kevin Callinan recently told the Fórsa members’ news bulletin that negotiations on a PSSA successor would be near the top of the incoming Government’s in-box after the election.
Spending power of public service wages is being eroded by the increasing cost-of-living, including in housing and child care, while private sector earnings are now rising at three times the rate of public service pay.
“The spending power of public service wages is being eroded by the increasing cost-of-living, including in housing and child care, while private sector earnings are now rising at three times the rate of public service pay. Meanwhile, we still have a two-tier system because of measures introduced during the crisis more than a decade ago, and public service pay and conditions are still framed by an emergency mind-set despite Ireland’s return to robust growth, strong exchequer finances and growing employment rates.
“Last spring I called for talks to deal with the PSSA’s shortcomings. I said economic and exchequer improvements had outstripped everyone’s expectations when the deal was signed in 2017. I also said we needed to engage in discussions to address issues in particular sectors in advance of post-PSSA talks. The Government’s failure to prioritise this has further destabilised the agreement, with education strikes planned for next week,” he said.