Public service

Government ‘offered additional pay rises worth 5%’ before civil service talks collapsed

Civil service pay talks broke down early this morning after the government offered additional pay rises worth 5%.

The Irish Trades Union Congress’ Public Services Committee said the proposed amount was “well below inflation”.

The talks ended after a major rift developed between government officials and union negotiators.

The Workplace Relations Committee has asked the parties to reflect on their positions and whether there is a basis for resuming talks.

‘Civil Service pay talks ended without agreement in the Workplace Relations Committee this morning after the Government’s proposals fell well short of 2021 inflation and expected increases cost of living in 2022,” the committee said in a statement.

The committee said talks were called after invoking a review clause in the current public service agreement, Building Momentum, “on the basis of high and sustained inflation that was not expected when the agreement has been concluded”.

Under the agreement, the country’s 340,000 civil servants must raise their salaries by up to 3% over two years. The final 1pc under the deal is due October 1st.

Union negotiators said the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform had offered additional pay rises of 2.5% to cover last year and this year.

They said annual inflation of at least 9% is expected over the two-year period.

Union leaders said a further 2.5 per cent were on offer for next year – “despite inflation projections that could reach double that figure in 2023”.

Government negotiators have sought to extend the two-year Building Momentum deal which is due to expire at the end of this year – until the end of 2023.

ICTU Public Services Committee Chairman Kevin Callinan said the government’s proposals were well below projected inflation and could not have been credibly put before members in the ballots unions.

He added that they would send a signal to employers across the economy that workers would have to bear the brunt of large and sustained increases in the cost of home heating, fuel, food, housing, childcare of children and other essentials.

“The real gap between the modest wage increases in the current public service agreement and the rising cost of living is huge and could grow further,” he said.

“In 2021, the gap between annualized Building Momentum increases and annualized inflation was 2.15%. If inflation averages 7% this year – and it could well be higher – the gap of 2022 would be 6.75%.Who knows what 2023 will bring?

“In this context, the government’s proposals would leave low- and middle-income civil servants struggling to pay essential bills. And it would send a message to employers across the economy that only workers should foot the bill for runaway price hikes. Workers do not cause inflation, they and their families are the victims of inflation,” he said.

Mr Callinan said if the WRC saw value in another commitment, the union side would be available.

“Earlier this week, I warned that the government’s goal of extending the Building Momentum agreement until 2023 could not substitute for the resolution of the 2021-2022 living standards deficit, and that these talks would fail. if this cost-of-living deficit was not sufficiently addressed,” he said.

“We worked in good faith to avoid this breakdown, but the proposals that were presented to us overnight could not be presented credibly to the members of the union, who rightly decide whether we conclude or extend an agreement. The government must now come back with a more realistic offer that can maintain stability in public service delivery and industrial relations,” he said.