007/17 News Update: National Talks Update

To: Each Branch Secretary
Date: 31st May 2017
News Update: 007/17
Re: National Talks Update – Week 2 – Detailed update



Please circulate to all members. 

Week 2 opened with another presentation by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) on the state of the public finances and more particularly a summary of the FEMPI cuts to pay and the application of the pension levy. The impact of the flat rate increase in pay and the partial restoration of the levy in the Lansdowne Road deal (LRA) by adjusting the threshold upwards were summarised. No proposals on how pay and/or the levy might be addressed in any new agreement were tabled.

At the core of the DPER position to date, is the so-called available ‘Fiscal Space’ from which the employer will fund any pay or levy restoration. It has been pointed out that this same fiscal space is the pot from which our other restoration claims such as the roll back of hours, overtime rates and divisors, the new entry points etc. will have to come. Further we have to share this fiscal space with demands to fund more public service staff, improved services to the public etc. The quantum of that fiscal space in 2018, 2019 and 2020 will dictate the DPER position on our demands for restoration across the range of issues tabled at the start of this process last week. DPER and their experts say it will be just €200 m in 2018 – to give some perspective the bringing forward of the 2nd phase LRA €1,000 payment this year cost €120m.  

The PSC Unions List:

Alongside our clearly stated demands for the restoration of the FEMPI pay cut of 2010 and the restoration of the pension levy of 2009, the Public Services Committee has set out a range of issues for delivery by the employer in these talks

  • Restoring starting pay and incremental credit for those with relevant work experience taking up public sector employment especially where a candidate is transferring from one sector to another
  • Realigning the retirement age to address the changes in the Social Protection Contributory Pension payment age
  • Rolling back the unpaid additional hours
  • Restoring overtime rates and resolving the o/t divisor anomaly in the Civil Service
  • Professional Registration Fees for certain grades in the wider public service
  • The implication of SO/EO Integration for CO/EO promotion ratios
  • Conclusion of the CPSU allowance consolidation in the Museums
  • HCO levels in the Civil Service
  • Flexi- work life balance inconsistencies
  • Job Evaluation
  • Annual Leave inconsistencies/outstanding awards/claims
  • Contracts of Indefinite Duration issues in some sectors
  • Prevalence of agency working in some sectors
  • Union side issues in several sectors


The DPER List:

Last week we were treated to a series of presentations setting out productivity related goals for the employer none of which gained any traction on our side of the house. These include

  • Changes to the LRA provisions on outsourcing to include labour cost comparisons and a definition of what are minor works that can be outsourced.
  • Saturday working and related premia
  • PMDS for all sectors
  • Atypical work arrangements Modernisation of time and attendance systems to include biometric sign in facilities
  • Rostering arrangements
  • Redeployment – 45km to 65 km
  • Greater Open recruitment across sectors including at HEO
  • Professionalisation to include the introduction of white collar apprenticeships in accounting, law, ICT etc. at CO and EO levels
  • Standardisation of payment cycles – weekly to fortnightly pay.

Coupled to the above is the DPER stated position that while it wants to roll back FEMPI it can only do so in the context of the available fiscal space. Of particular concerns is the goal to secure agreement on enhanced pension contributions for fast accrual pensions (Gardai, Defence Forces, and Firefighters etc.) and on meeting the costs of the pension premium identified in the Public Service Commission Report by additional pension contributions.


Where are we?

A considerable gulf exists between the positions set out by both sides in week 1. We had a specific session on Civil Service sectoral issues on Friday but no progress was immediately forthcoming on the consolidation of the allowances and pay in the National Museum, outsourcing of work to SP Branch Offices including the PSSC cards, the CO/EO posts ratio, resolution of annual leave claims, the ratio of HCOs and issues surrounding BREXIT and Enforcement posts in Revenue.

This level of progress has continued so far in week 2. The Pay position as outlined by DPER on Monday failed to move beyond the opening position presented last week. On Recruitment and Retention yesterday afternoon we stated our concerns at the churn in CO recruits since the lifting of the moratorium on recruitment. Today Tuesday we called for the removal of the low entry points to address the injustice visited on new recruits. At a session on Overtime Rates we paid particular attention to the anomaly in the divisor used in the Civil Service (gross Hours) compared to the wider Public Service (net hours). In the afternoon we cited the inconsistency of the application of work life balance provisions within the Service between Departments while in a discussion on Rostering the unions rejected a draft text which appeared to link a review of roster arrangements with the payments of shift premia.

More discussions on specific areas in the lists from both sides will continue for the remainder of this week. There is a considerable range of issues and concerns that divide. Red lines have been drawn not least on hours, outsourcing, new entrant pay points, and the restoration of the FEMPI cuts in pay and the pension levy and the introduction of increased pension contributions on foot of the Commission Report. Squaring the circle is by no means a given.

Eoin Ronayne

General Secretary