Public sector union negotiators have warned of strikes due to coincide with the September budget to tackle the impact of rising inflation on low- and middle-income earners.
They have said they are no longer willing to discuss an extension of the Building Momentum agreement to cover salaries in 2023 until improved terms are agreed for 2021-2022.
In a letter to members of the ICTU Public Services Committee (PSC), PSC negotiators said they had now concluded that the government was breaching the current public service collective agreement by failing to carry out a review of the Building Momentum Wage Terms.
Last week, Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the Dáil the government wanted to reach a collective bargaining agreement for civil servants ahead of the budget that would include “parallel” measures to ease pressure on the cost of living.
The review clause was triggered over four months ago.
In its letter to PSC members, who collectively represent over 90 per cent of Irish civil servants, it said that on 11 March, when inflation was at 5.6 per cent, the PSC invoked the build momentum review clause.
“We have done so with the aim of significantly improving the salary element of the agreement, taking into account higher-than-expected inflation in both 2021 and 2022,” the letter reads.
“The government finally reacted in May when inflation hit 7 percent.
“Subsequent talks in the Workplace Relations Commission ended without agreement on June 17 when inflation hit 7.8 percent.
“Officials at the Department for Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) subsequently told the WRC that the government needed more time to think about its position and four weeks later – with inflation at 9.1 per cent – they always think still thinking about it.”
They added that the Dáíl has gone on hiatus and will not resume until September 14, leaving low- and middle-income public servants “the prospect of another two months of uncertainty.”
“In our view, the government’s attitude towards its employees borders on contempt.
“Given their continued hesitation, it seems clear that the government has no intention of completing the review of Building Momentum,” the letter continued.
“On this basis, we have informed the WRC that we are no longer able to continue discussions on extending Building Momentum to pay in 2023 until the review of Building Momentum is satisfactorily completed.
“If there is no extension before the current agreement expires at the end of December, we will have to submit wage claims for the next year.”
They also recommend a coordinated union campaign, backed by industrial action votes, to secure a “credible salary offer” for 2021-2022 for public servants.
“We recommend unions to start practical arrangements for the elections, which are due to start next month, pending a meeting of the Public Services Committee to coordinate the campaign,” they said.
“You will recall that wage negotiations ended with no deal in mid-June after the government offered an additional increase of just 2.5 per cent for the 2021-2022 period of the current deal. This is clearly insufficient when inflation is now likely to be above 10 per cent over this period.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/public-sector-union-warn-of-possible-strikes-in-september-over-new-government-pay-deal-41850601.html The public sector union warns of possible strikes in September over new collective bargaining agreements with the government