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Public sector pay: How did the State’s €2.9bn offer add up?

Talks set to resume in coming days despite starkly different takes on offer from Government and union sides

Talks on a new public sector pay agreement are expected to resume at the Workplace Relations Commission over the coming days with both sides indicating a willingness to re-engage after trade union representatives rejected a pay offer made by the Government on Wednesday night.

It provided for total pay increases worth 8.5 per cent over 2½ years to the majority of the State’s 385,000 public and civil servants. Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe said the benefit would be greater to the lowest paid workers, at around 12 per cent, because of the guaranteed minimum increases involved.

Under the structure offered, the employees involved would receive:

  • A raise of 1 per cent or €750, whichever was higher, on March 1st.
  • A further 2 per cent on October 1st.
  • An additional 1 per cent on March 1st of next year.
  • An extra 1.5 per cent or €750, whichever was higher, on August 1st of next year.
  • A final 1.5 per cent raise would come in on February 1st, 2026.
  • In addition, there would be 1 per cent of the total deal value made available in two equal tranches – on October 1st, 2025 and June 1st, 2026 – to address local claims, many of which involve the likes of changes to work practices. The offer provides for increases of up to 3 per cent to be negotiated to address such issues, but states that the balance of anything agreed would be paid in the next public sector pay agreement.

The cost to the State of the deal was put at €2.9 billion by Mr Donohoe.


Union negotiators said the offer tabled “lacks credibility”. They criticised the structure, which they said gave public sector employees what they regard as minimal pay increases this year despite many having lost spending power because of increases to the cost of living last year.

Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan suggested the increases offered failed to take account of the shortfall experienced between pay rises and cost of living increases during the term of the last national pay agreement, something the union side has repeatedly said it wants addressed.

Siptu’s John King criticised the fact that that structure meant the increases to gross pay this year would have amounted to just over €5 per week and €10 per week in the wages of those on middle-incomes.

This, he said, “failed the basic test” an agreement intended to address the cost of living crisis.

But speaking on Thursday on RTÉ radio, Mr Donohoe said the “proposals that we have here are ahead of the rates of inflation we think are likely to happen in the time ahead and in line with the wage settlements that are happening elsewhere in the economy and I believe are a really fair, but also a an affordable agreement that we can stand over and a case for to our public servants”.

He said “it was difficult to see any material change beyond this” as it might lead to a deal that was unaffordable and could have a knock on effect in terms of private sector claims.

However, he did not rule out the possibility of an improved offer being tabled when the talks resume.

Trade unions with members who would be impacted by any agreement met on Thursday to discuss the overnight developments and to finalise the wording of a ballot on industrial action to be undertaken if the talks ultimately fail.

Mr Callinan said afterwards there had been “complete unanimity” among the 19 unions affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ Public Services Committee and others, like the various representative organisations for gardaí, that the proposals put forward on Wednesday evening were not good enough.

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