We’re back into the talks this morning (Friday, 26th May) after a day’s respite yesterday as we held a special delegate conference to restructure the union and the political fund of our union while our colleagues in IMPACT held its executive meeting.
On today’s agenda is working patterns (including Saturday working) performance management and recruitment. SIPTU representatives will be continuing to pursue our strategy of protecting the working conditions of all low – middle earners in the public service and to stand against the outsourcing of our members work.
In earlier updates, we explored the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s (DPER) ‘fiscal space’ presentation, which they made on day one of the talks. In it, they told us there would be €550 million of fiscal space in 2018, but that just €200 million would be left after existing commitments are met.
The pressure eases in the following years, with €1 billion expected to be available to spend in each of the following three years – 2019, 2020 and 2021. There will also be other calls on the four-year total of €3.2 billion, including demands for extra public service staffing.
But it’s not a lot to play with, especially next year. Unions usually work to ‘front-load’ pay deals, so that the biggest payments come early on. That looks like being very difficult this time While we recognise all this, pay restoration also brings a value to the State and its people and that line will continue to be pressed by SIPTU representatives.
SIPTU representatives accept that pay adjustments must be affordable and sustainable, but they also need to have substance. Otherwise, our members simply won’t back them in the ballots that must follow the negotiation process.
To put it another way, no deal will be accepted if it lacks substance. And if it’s not accepted, the Government and new Taoiseach won’t have the stability they seek and will be back on the doorsteps within weeks.
As ever, we will keep you informed of any developments on our website, social media and App.