Howlin: Pay talks set for public sector workers

Pay talks are to begin with public service workers next month, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has said.

Emergency measures were brought in to cut wages from 2009 in response to the country’s financial crisis.

Minister Brendan Howlin has invited trade unionists to begin discussions on the unwinding of the legislation.

He said: “I believe that all public servants fully understand that we are not discussing the immediate restoration of pay reductions, but a more gradual and sustainable approach in line with the improvements in the economy under this Government.”

He added: “I expect that all sides to these discussions will meet with the aim and intention of making an agreement that is fair to all involved – those who are dependent on public services, employers and public servants themselves – and an agreement that sustains the continuing economic recovery.”

Discussions on pay with the public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) will take place in the context of the state’s fiscal position, and the pace of financial recovery for this year and 2016.

Mr Howlin said the recovery in Ireland’s fiscal position was in no small part due to the contribution of public servants to keeping the pay bill at sustainable levels.

He said he would maintain productivity, reform and industrial relations structures provided for under the Haddington Road Agreement. That deal was the outcome of negotiations between public service managers and unions two years ago.

The department said, apart from the pay measures, the public service has embarked on a very ambitious programme of workplace reform.

It said public service productivity has been boosted through additional workplace hours, new shared services, unprecedented redeployment of staff, a 10% reduction in numbers, reforms of sick and annual leave, with ongoing reform now a daily reality for all public servants.

The talks will begin in May.

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