17 September 2008

Agreement reached in National Pay Talks

This morning - after months of general talks and weeks of intensive negotiations - the Social Partners have eventually reached a new National Wage Agreement for the Republic of Ireland.

The last session with representatives of employers and all Irish trade unions went on for 22 hours and all through the night. Negotiators on both sides realised that they were already into the third day over the deadline set by the Taoiseach, and that might have helped their minds to sharpen and reach an agreement.

The result of the long and tedious talks is a pay increase of 6% for all workers, to be paid over 21 months.
The pay rise will be applied in two phases, with a 0.5% increase at the end of the agreement for workers earning less than € 430.49 per week, or around € 22,463 per annum.

All private sector workers will have a three-month pay pause. They will then receive a 3.5% increase over six months and a further 2.5% for the following year.

Public sector workers will have an 11-month pay pause from the last module of the Towards 2016 programme.
They will then receive 3.5% for the next nine months (commencing September 1st, 2009) and a further 2.5% for the remainder of the agreement.
The agreement also contains commitments on public service modernisation to reflect the latest OECD report.

Brian Cowen explained that the new agreement would include provisions to prevent employers using temporary agency workers to break strikes.
There will also be a statutory prohibition on victimisation of trade union members, and on inducements to encourage trade union members to leave their unions.

"The new National Pay Agreement will give a sense of confidence and stability in the challenging period ahead," the Taoiseach said earlier in Dublin.
"Even though the negotiations were very lengthy and complex, the Social Partners made commendable efforts to enable the terms of a draft Agreement to be identified."

Trade union leaders and the representatives of the employers' organisations are now putting the new draft agreement before their members for approval. There will be internal discussions and a detailed examination of the agreed terms, and a result is expected in about two weeks.

"This has been a long and arduous process, played out against a background of rapidly changing economic reality for workers and the economy as a whole," said Jimmy Kelly, Regional Secretary of Ireland's second-largest trade union UNITE, after the talks had ended and rows of exhausted negotiators emerged from Government Buildings in Dublin.
Turlough O'Sullivan, Director General of the employers' lobbying group IBEC, said there were "many positives in the deal".

The Emerald Islander

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