Public and private sector unions to intensify demands for pay increases

Talks to take place to progress Ictu’s claims for higher pay in response to inflation

Unions in the public and private sectors will intensify their demand for pay increases next week following the latest figures which show a substantial leap in the inflation rate in Ireland.

Figures published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Thursday show the annual rate of inflation rose to 7 per cent in April as a result of price hikes in the energy, fuel and grocery sectors.

It is one of the sharpest increases in price growth experienced in the State since the 1980s.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) has said it will be actively engaged in pursuing claims in the private sector as well as in the public sector from next week.


The private sector committee of Ictu is meeting next Tuesday to review the latest figures and to get an overview of developments in the Irish economy.

On the public sector side, Ictu said that talks under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission will take place on the following Monday, May 23rd, to progress unions’ claims for higher pay in response to the inflationary pressures of the past year.

‘Difficult decisions’

Last week, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath warned that the forthcoming pay talks with public service unions would be difficult.

“They will be difficult discussions against a very challenging backdrop,” he said at the time.

The Government has said that any demands for pay increases must be evaluated against a backdrop of multiple challenges, including the war in Ukraine and the impact of rising inflation.

However, Mr McGrath said at the time there could be progress on the issue in a manner that was “reasonable and fair” to public service employees but also to the State’s taxpayers.

Several public sector unions have already indicated they will seek significant pay increases to offset the impact of inflation. The Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (which represents 3,000 public service employees at the higher grades) passed several motions at its recent annual meeting seeking improved pay and conditions in light of high rates of inflation.

The secretary general of Ictu, Patricia King, noted last night that many thousands of workers in the private sector are covered by pay agreements as well.

It will mean that the Government will now be facing pay increases from State employees while private sector companies will expect similar demands from their unions.

The CSO’s latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) indicated widespread increases in prices across the Irish economy in April.

The main areas of increase were energy and fuel, with prices partly driven by the ongoing uncertainty caused by the conflict in Ukraine.

Electricity, gas and other fuels were up over 45 per cent year-on-year.

Petrol and diesel prices were up 24 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. Airfares rose by as much as 93 per cent since April last year.

The cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages has also increased by an average of 3.5 per cent in 2022 compared to April last year.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times