Ministers deny refusing to speak as the public sector is due to vote next month

The government has denied claims that it has refused to start talks on a review of its pay deal with civil servants as preparations for next month’s elections begin.

Members of the Public Services Committee of the Irish Trades Union Congress will meet tomorrow to sign ballots for industrial action.

Local authority employees who are Siptu members have announced that they are preparing to vote next month.

And a senior Siptu official warned that the government would face a barrage of wage demands next year if an extension of the current wage pact is not agreed as it expires at the end of the year.

Siptu Deputy Secretary General John King said yesterday that by refusing to rejoin the Workplace Relations Commission to deal with an escalation in the cost of living, the government is in breach of the terms of the current agreement.

“Far from refusing to cooperate with the WRC again, the government has remained in close contact with the WRC throughout this process, including last week,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Expenditure and Reform.

“The Government has made it clear at all times that it wishes to reach an acceptable agreement on new pay rules and remains ready to engage in meaningful discussions with unions, under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission, to achieve this.”

Tomorrow’s meeting of public sector union leaders comes after talks on a review of the collective agreement collapsed last month.

Discussions were sparked by unions calling for a review of the Building Momentum deal amid rising inflation.

The government has made an offer that means civil servants will receive increases totaling 7 percent this year and next.

A 1 percent increase paid to most employees in February and another 1 percent increase due in October are included in this number.

Siptu sector organizer Brendan O’Brien warned that wage claims will be filed for next year if an extension of the current deal is not agreed.

He said the unions had invoked a review clause in the Building Momentum agreement because of “runaway inflation”.

“The government has offered an additional increase of just 2.5 percent for the 2021-2022 period of the current deal,” he said.

“This is clearly insufficient when inflation is expected to exceed 9 percent over this period.”

Siptu warned in a statement that public servants are preparing to vote for industrial action over the government’s “failure” to review the collective agreement.

It said its members across the civil service will shortly begin a consultation exercise ahead of votes on industrial action.

It said the consultation would involve union members and activists from the healthcare, local government, education and government sectors in the coming weeks.

Mr King said talks at the WRC had been pushed back to June 17 as the government side claimed they needed time to think.

“With the Dáil now on hiatus until early to mid-September, it is clear that it is unwilling to engage in meaningful discussions about the cost of living crisis,” he said.

“Under these circumstances, we are now left with no choice but to vote our members to protect their standard of living.”

Fórsa General Secretary and Irish Trades Union Congress President Kevin Callinan has ruled out industrial action that could disrupt the budget.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/ministers-deny-refusing-to-talk-as-public-sector-set-to-ballot-next-month-41866824.html Ministers deny refusing to speak as the public sector is due to vote next month

Fry Electronics Team

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