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Unions disappointed by public sector pay offer

Public sector trade unions have described a pay offer from the Government as extremely disappointing.

Pay talks ended without agreement shortly after 2am this morning at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and a date for the resumption of negotiations has not yet been set.

Leaving the talks this morning, General Secretary of Fórsa and lead union negotiator Kevin Callinan said progress had been made in relation to non-pay issues of a possible multi-annual agreement.

“But I’m afraid to say that the opening offer from the Government side was extremely disappointing and the fact remains that there’s a substantial gap between the parties in relation to pay,” Mr Callinan said.

Unions affiliated with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) will be briefed on the pay offer at 10am, with a meeting of non-affiliate representative associations due to be held at 11am.

“The WRC has indicated to us that the Government side would like some time to reflect on the situation, so the talks haven’t broken down, there is going to be a pause of an unknown duration,” Mr Callinan said.

Mr Donohoe said ‘the Government remains available to enter into further discussions’

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said he was disappointed that, despite intensive negotiations, the talks have not yet delivered an agreed outcome.

“The Government is on record as saying it wishes to reach an agreement with public service unions and associations that strikes the correct balance between continued investment in the delivery of our public services and an approach to public service pay that is fair and affordable,” Mr Donohoe said.

“We have made a proposal in the context of the negotiations which we believe achieves these objectives.

“I encourage trade unions and associations to take a period to reflect and the Government remains available to enter into further discussions with public service unions and associations at the appropriate time,” he added.

The previous public sector pay agreement, Building Momentum, expired at the end of last year and talks before Christmas failed to reach agreement on a successor deal.

Public sector trade unions had criticised the slow pace of the negotiations and threatened industrial action.

Last month, as part of the pay talks, the Government agreed to repeal emergency industrial relations legislation introduced during the financial crisis.

Unions had asked for the removal of the legislation claiming it had made it too difficult for individual sectors and grades to have issues addressed outside of the scope of existing pay deals.

If a new agreement is reached, it will mean a pay increase for 385,000 public servants including nurses, doctors, Gardaí and teachers.

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