What do we want restored?
- We want a flat rate increase in take home pay.
- We want the 2010 pay restored.
- We want the Pension Levy abolished.
- We want the USC realigned for the lower paid.
- We want the additional hours imposed under the HRA rolled back.
Why is the CPSU looking for pay to be increased for the low paid first?
The Civil, Public & Services Union wants a flat increase in pay, to give priority to lower paid workers. The union wants lower paid workers to get the full benefits of any future pay increase.
The Restoration campaign is highlighting the fact that tens of thousands of lower paid workers are struggling to pay their household bills, childcare costs and day to day living costs. They have no disposable income, many are reliant on government payments such as the Family Income Supplement to survive, and are unable to afford to save, or put money aside for a rainy day or emergency.
These workers have experienced the brunt of the Government’s austerity programme through waves of pay cuts and levies.
The Government’s finances are improving, and the economic recession is ending. It’s time the Government gave back to the workers who have lost out because of austerity policies and decisions to fix an economic crisis that was not of their making.
Why a flat rate increase and not a percentage increase as before?
The flat rate increase gives a distinct advantage to lower paid workers in comparison to a percentage increase for all workers.
For example, a flat rate increase of €1500 per year is the equivalent of 7.5% to a worker on €20,000 a year, compared to 3% to a worker earning €50,000 a year.
What pay cuts did the lower paid experience?
Every worker in the public and civil service saw their take home pay reduced in four ways since 2008, as a result of austerity measures.
The reductions were:
- the pension levy
- the 2010 pay cut
- the USC or Universal Social Charge
- the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA).
The pension levy or Pension-Related Deduction (PRD) was introduced in 2009 as part of the emergency legislation to help restore the public finances. It averages around 7.5% and was a measure proportedly used to help reduce the public service pay and pensions bill.
The levy was income-graduated; earnings between €15,000 and €20,000 a year pay 2.5% of annual salary or around €125; earnings between €20,000 and €60,000 pay 10% or around €1125 .
The CPSU wants this levy abolished in full.
The 2010 pay cut.
In 2010, under what has become known as FEMPI, or the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts, every public sector worker had their pay cut as follows:
- 5% on the first €30,000 of salary;
- 7.5% on the next €40,000 of salary;
- 10% on the next €55,000 of salary.
A Clerical Officer on average pay lost €1500 gross per annum in this pay cut.
The Universal Social Charge (USC).
In 2011, the Government introduced the USC to replace both the income levy and the health levy.
It is payable on gross income over €12,012 per year.
Earnings up to €17,576 pay 3.5%, earnings up to €70,044 pay 7% and 8% thereafter.
A worker on €37,000 per year (the maximum pay for Clerical Officer) pays almost €1400 per year in USC.
The Haddington Road Agreement.
In 2013, the public service unions and the Government agreed a series of pay and productivity measures to help reduce the public service pay and pensions bill. It became known as the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA).
The HRA implemented additional hours for public servants, which are valued in pay terms at 6%.
These extra hours have created increased costs for low paid workers, particularly in loss of flexible time, allowances and work and family life balance.
Who are the lower paid?
The lower paid are the frontline staff in the civil and public sector, the people you meet behind the counter and the people who work in the background to ensure vital services are in place.
The lower paid are mainly those who are working as Clerical Officers, and related grades such as Science and Arts Attendants in the public and civil service.
Their maximum earnings can be around €37,000 a year, starting at below €20,000 a year.
Lower paid civil and public servants work mainly in administrative jobs in a wide range of services that the public relies heavily on. They have Clerical Officer roles in offices processing welfare claims, administering payments, and managing applications and paperwork. For example, they work to ensure Child Benefit gets paid on time, they ensure Tax Clearance Certificates are issued, they ensure unemployment and social welfare payments are processed and managed.
In other words, they are managing the myriad of daily queries and administrative responsibilities associated with working in public services.