Public sector pay talks ‘undeniably slow’, union leader says with deadline approaching

‘Considerable work’ still to be done on deal that had negotiators had hoped could be drawn up before Christmas

The pace of progress at public sector pay talks is disappointingly slow, the official leading union side has said. Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan said more urgency is needed when they resume on Monday, with the current deal is set to expire on December 31st.

The senior official said that while important progress had been made on the issue of repealing financial control mechanisms introduced after the financial crash which the unions saw a block to any long term deal, “considerable work remains to be done to achieve an agreement”.

The talks are intended to produce a successor deal to Building Momentum which provided for pay increases and other changes to working conditions for around 385,000 employees across the public sector.

A total of 19 unions are represented on the Irish Congress of Trade Unions public services committee, the officers of which, including Mr Callinan, are directly involved in the talks on a day-to-day basis.


It had been hoped on both sides and a new agreement could be drawn up before the Christmas break so unions could proceed to balloting on it early in the new year.

“We’ve exchanged positions on the Government’s modernisation agenda, and on the union’s agenda for the futureproofing of quality public services and jobs,” Mr Callinan said in an update to his union’s members on the talks which started at the end of last month.

“More work is needed to bring these items to a conclusion, and we will want to ensure existing protections, such as those on outsourcing, continue within the context of a new agreement.

“The pay element is likely to form the concluding phase of the talks process. That means we really need to push for progress on Monday, as the time available to finalise an agreement is limited.

“Progress has been undeniably slow so far, and that is disappointing, he said, adding, “we are hoping to inject a sense of urgency into the next round of talks, and to make real progress on finalising a deal”.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe, described the talks so far as “constructive”.

“The parties have had constructive engagement on a number of issues over the course of the last three weeks,” they said.

“Government have been clear that the aim is to reach a mutually acceptable outcome – one that strikes the right balance between providing for both continued investment in our public services and an approach to public service pay that is fair, reasonable and affordable for public servants and taxpayers generally.”

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Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times