A survey by Fórsa, has revealed very strong support for unions to pursue inflation-matching pay increases, including in the next round of public service pay talks.
The survey, which drew completed responses from more than 20,000 of the union’s members nationwide, was commissioned by Fórsa and conducted by Amárach research in the second half of April.
More than 80% of respondents said it was ‘very important’ that that pay negotiations secure increases that match inflation, and this response was especially high (90%) among younger workers.
The survey found a clear majority of respondents are in favour of Fórsa organising a ballot for industrial action if negotiated increases are below the rate of inflation, with only 5% opposed, while the remainder said they would consider their support for an industrial action ballot when details of any pay offer are known.
The union said that if such a ballot became necessary support would be likely to increase, and noted a higher level of support for an industrial action ballot among younger Fórsa members.
The survey gathered data on the views of Fórsa members in relation to pay, incomes, cost-of-living and a range of political issues.
Over 90% of Fórsa members said it’s important that future pay negotiations cover any shortfall experienced because of the withdrawal of government cost-of-living supports, such as energy credits. More than two thirds of those respondents described this outcome as ‘very important’.
The current public service pay agreement, Building Momentum, expires at the end of 2023. Talks on a successor agreement are expected to take place in the coming months.
Responding to the survey results Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan, who chairs the ICTU’s Public Services Committee, described the rate of response to the survey as “phenomenal”, and said its findings on pay and cost-of-living issues provided a sharp illustration of the main concerns of all households.
He commented: “There can be no doubt that the cost-of-living must continue to be the main focus for unions in pay talks this year.
“As and when public service talks get underway, unions will concentrate on a number of key cost-of-living issues, including the need to make good the shortfall in pay against inflation during the remaining term of the current pay agreement, which expires in December.
We will also factor in the effect of any cessation of Government cost-of-living measures and supports - which this survey reveals as a core issue - in addition to anticipating cost-of-living projections over the period of any proposed agreement to emerge from talks with Government.
Mr Callinan added: “The last few months have been very challenging for working people with food inflation, in particular, remaining stubbornly high. Unions are absolutely clear that last year’s Building Momentum review didn’t fully compensate for the rate of inflation.
“When workers were weighing up the terms of that deal, they were also paying close attention to the Government’s intentions to introduce various measures, including budgetary tax changes.
“We’ve already made it clear to government and employers, if these supports are withdrawn and if prices remain elevated – as they surely will – the shortfall will have to be made good in wage bargaining across the economy,” he said.