26 September 2023

IRELAND: Restive unions demand better deal

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Ireland’s public sector pay talks are set to resume in August with unions stepping up pressure on the Government to make an improved pay offer.

That pressure was demonstrated when the three main teachers’ unions said they would ballot members on a “co-ordinated Public Service campaign” if their pay rise demands were not met within weeks.

The mediating Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has issued invitations to both sides to return to the discussions that stalled in June.

The Government and the unions have indicated they will both return.

However, the unions have made it clear that they expect an improved pay offer from the Government, and are continuing preparations for possible industrial action ballots to take place as early as next month.

A Government offer of a five per cent increase over two years on top of the two per cent in the existing deal was rejected by unions in June as “not credible”.

Chair of the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Union, Kevin Callinan (pictured) said unions would respond but “it takes two sides to tango”.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath said the Government was willing to return to talks, but there was “a need for flexibility on both sides”.

Meanwhile, the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland have agreed on potential action.

In a joint statement issued to The Irish Times, the unions said they expected to begin preparations for September ballots of members on either a revised pay offer “or on a co-ordinated Public Service campaign designed to achieve such an offer”.

The unions represent more than 80,000 teachers.

Dublin, 30 July 2022

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