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Government’s Proposed 8.5% Salary Increase in Ireland Falls Short, Deemed Insufficient by Unions

Dublin: Tensions persist between the government and the union over the recently proposed public sector pay deal. The unions remain dissatisfied with the offered increase in the contract, staunchly advocating for a cumulative rise of approximately 12.5%. Criticism from the unions centers on the perceived inadequacy of the salary agreement in addressing the pressing cost-of-living crisis, with calls for an elevation in the national minimum wage and social security payments being disregarded.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe contends that the new pay deal constitutes a reasonable increment, emphasising that even the lowest-paid public sector employees will witness a 12% salary rise over the contract period. However, union representatives argue that the increase falls short when considering inflation and fails to align with the upward trajectory established in prior contracts. Minister Donohoe asserts that the current contract is not definitive, signalling the government’s openness to further negotiations.

At the Irish Congress of Trade Unions meeting, unions and staff associations decried the pay deal as “extremely disappointing.” Kevin Callinan, the general secretary of Forsa and lead union negotiator, criticised the government for neglecting to bridge the gap between inflation and pay, which has widened to approximately 19% over the past three years.

Callinan also expressed concern that the government’s approach undermines the concept of a multi-year public service pay agreement, deeming it lacking in credibility. He warned that unless the government rectifies the situation, the union would be compelled to organize agitation and potentially resort to a strike.

The public sector pay contract, known as “Building Momentum,” concluded late last year, with discussions on a new salary agreement stalling before Christmas. Threats of a strike prompted the resumption of negotiations, leading to the current agreement. Notably, the government agreed to withdraw the Emergency Industrial Relations Act, implemented during the economic crisis, during last month’s salary agreement talks.

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