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Unions threaten strike, government pulls out of talks: leaving salary revision deal in limbo

Dublin: Tensions rise as the Irish government and public sector unions gear up for potential strikes due to the prolonged delay in reaching a salary reform agreement. The Building Momentum agreement, currently in place, is set to expire at the end of the year, prompting unrest among unions who criticise the government’s silence on the matter.

Negotiations on salary revision were initially agreed upon, but the government unilaterally withdrew from discussions without providing a rescheduled date. This unilateral move has triggered threats of strikes from unions, leaving the salary contracts of 385,000 employees, including nurses, doctors, garda, and teachers, in a state of uncertainty. While the government recently agreed to repeal emergency industrial relations legislation from the financial crisis era, it has not clarified the implementation timeline for the new agreement.

Concerns and frustrations are mounting among various unions, emphasising the need for transparent wage reform negotiations. Public sector unions have announced plans to convene in January to discuss the possibility of open strike action if the new contract faces further delays.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and the Public Services Committee (PSC), which previously met to address the government’s stance, are scheduled to reconvene on January 11 to decide on potential strike actions, according to FORSA General Secretary Kevin Cullinan.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha stressed the importance of fortifying positions to address the rising cost of living and indicated that appropriate action should be taken if a new salary agreement is not reached by January. SIPTU Deputy General Secretary John King highlighted the strong pressure from union members to secure a pay deal, while INTO General Secretary John Boyle expressed uncertainty over pay reform in the new year.

In response, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe expressed regret over the union’s strike threat but did not provide clarity on the date for resuming negotiations on the salary agreement. The government acknowledges the misalignment of salary increases with inflation, according to the Prime Minister.

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