17/09/2017 Comments are off SIPTUhealth
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Launch of SIPTU College for Continuous Professional Development

SIPTU Health Division will launch the ‘SIPTU College for Continuous Professional Development’  this Tuesday (19th September) in the Albert Theatre, Royal College of Surgeons at 6 pm.

The college, a collaborative partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons, is set to formally launched by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris and SIPTU General Secretary, Joe O‘Flynn.

The college launch follows months of engagement with members of the need to provide support for SIPTU Health Division members achieve their professional development goals through lifelong learnings and specially constructed education programmes.

The need to achieve Continuous Professional Development is crucial for all health service workers. In addition, legislative requirements for the evidence of same will become a central factor for continued statutory registration with bodies such as Nurse Midwife Board of Ireland (NMBI) and the Health and Social Care Professionals Council (CORU).

Through this partnership, SIPTU Health Division members will be able to access world-class education programmes which will be provided through direct and remote teaching methods. The programmes will be accredited by the RCSI and will be provided at a very competitive cost.

For any member that wishes to attend the launch and reception, there are limited spaces available. To book a place please email pcole@siptu.ie

10/09/2017 Comments are off SIPTUhealth
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UNICARE: fast growing sector with drive to succeed in future world of work

UNICARE, the fastest growing sector in UNI Global Union, held its international Organising & Steering Committee meeting in Geneva last week.

At the meeting, SIPTU representatives made a presentation to delegates on the progress the union is making in organising migrant workers and shared stories of the successes and challenges migrant workers experience in Ireland.

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell told delegates the SIPTU Migrant Workers Network has four main objectives:

  • To organise migrant workers and ensure their full participation in union activity.
  • To educate ALL workers, regardless of their country of origin, that we have a shared objective in sustaining & improving working conditions
  • To grow a union Support Network that enables migrant workers to support themselves & their communities.
  • To work in collaboration with like-minded groups to organise & campaign for a just, inclusive & equal society for people to live & work.

Speaking at the meeting Paul Bell said that largest percentage of migrant workers in the health service worked in the Care Sector and that union is campaigning to reimagine the provision of home care. “The first steps towards truly valuing home care is valuing the people who are using the service and the workers who are providing the service. By creating decent jobs with a living and social wage in the sector we are giving the workers, service users and their families the respect and recognition they deserve.

At the meeting, delegates were told that by 2030, it is likely that we will have a shortfall of 18 million care workers globally. The best way to combat this potential crisis is by trade unions working together to ensure that the home care sector has decent jobs that people want and aspire to work in, that enable home care workers to live full and decent lives.”

UNI Global Union Deputy General Secretary Christy Hoffman underlined UNI’s total commitment to growing UNICARE and the sector.

Hoffman, described by UNICARE President Carlos West Ocampo, as the moving force behind UNICARE, outlined the four ways in which UNI could contribute to the sector:

  • We understand corporate power: we must be strong to act as a counterweight to corporate power in care
  • We put a worker face on worker policy: we want decent work and our job to is give workers’ a voice  and we’re proud we did this recently for UNICARE at ILO
  • We support organising in care: for example see our successes in Colombia, Nepal, New Zealand and elsewhere
  • We are facing up to the challenges of the future world of work in care: more independent work, homecare, platform work – and actively looking for solutions.

President Carlos West Ocampo said, “Undoubtedly the global care sector will grow because while technology will take over certain jobs, lots more people will need care as the world population increases and we live longer. Therefore, hundreds of thousands more workers will need to be unionised because growth doesn’t necessarily mean decent work. Our job is to be visible and impactful because UNICARE can bring them decent work.”

Adrian Durtschi, Head of UNICARE thanked all the affiliates and speakers who made the meeting vibrant, interesting and focused.

Those unions which spoke and presented at the meeting included:

  • SIPTU from Ireland about organising migrant workers
  • FIST-CISL about their organising in elderly care
  • FATSA about their training program for care workers
  • SINTISSSTE from Mexico about the challenges in their country
  • HSWU from Ghana about their successes in private care organising
  • FO-FEC from France about the need for strong social security systems
  • NCCU from Japan about Robots in elderly care
  • UNIFOR from Canada about their success in Fight for 15 in Ontario

Video messages from many of the contributors to the meeting on the UNICARE are on the website

03/09/2017 Comments are off SIPTUhealth
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Get to know the SIPTU Health Care (HCA) sector

Our Objective:

To be the “Go to Union” for all HCAs and related grades and create a sector in which to organise and represent our members.  Development of a ‘Go to Place’ for new members to join our Union.

Our Vision:

 To become a leading contributor and driver in the future development of the Health Care Assistants role, in a National, European and International context for the betterment of those we care for, and those who provide the service.”

Our Agenda:

Has twin objectives, recognition and development of the role, and SIPTU negotiated pay and conditions. 

  1. Registration and recognition
  2. National job description and appropriate workplace uniform.
  3. Ongoing education training, development and progression.
  4. SIPTU negotiated pay and conditions.

 

Our Campaign:

  1. SIPTU is the only trade union with negotiation rights for HCA’s and related grades.
  2. The SIPTU Health Care (HCA) sector is organising and building a strong collective base so we can represent the grade collectively in Ireland Europe and beyond.
  3. The SIPTU Health Care (HCA) sector are lobbying the Department of Health and the HSE to establish a permanent National Forum for HCA’s and related grades so that SIPTU members we will have influential voice in the future development of the grade and deliver the SIPTU Health Care sector (HCA) 4-point agenda.

Recent Developments.

 The SIPTU Health Division made substantial progress and won accelerated pay restoration of all public service workers both the Lansdowne Road Agreement and its successor the Public Service Stability Agreement. This agreement included the increase of the pension levy threshold – removing all those earning under €34,000 from the pension levy over the lifetime of the agreement. SIPTU also fought hard for and won protections from the privatisation of public sector jobs.

The SIPTU Health Division championed HCA’s and related grades in relation to the changing roles and responsibilities of their practice and succeeded in securing a job evaluation scheme, which is underway in selected sites across the country.

The SIPTU Health Division stood up for workers who were employed under the HSE intern scheme, many of whom were HCA’s and we succeeded in gaining permanency after 18 months instead of the previously agreed 24 months.

In the recent public pay talks, SIPTU achieved incremental credit for any time now permanent members of staff spent as an intern.

1st AGM of SIPTU HealthCare Sector (HCA) Oak Room, Mansion House, 30th March 2016 

At our first AGM we were able to report that a significant part of our agenda had been achieved, when the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive, agreed to SIPTU’ s request to set up a platform for all stake holders who have an interest in the future role and development of HCA’s and related grades.

SIPTU is representing HCA’s on this forum which was established in November 2016. Starting with a review of the HCA grade across all disciplines the forum will provide a platform for the SIPTU Health Care sector (HCA) to progress our agenda.

Launch of SIPTU HealthCare Sector (HCA) Royal College of Physicians, 26th March 2015

Over 100 HCA’s attended the Launch of the SIPTU Health Care Sector (HCA) in the Royal College of Physicians on the 26th March 2015. Together, with the Minister for Health at the time, Leo Varadkar, key decision makers, and influencers we set course to confirm without a doubt that SIPTU was the only recognised voice and Trade Union for Health Care Assistants.

That day, we called on the Department of Health and the HSE to establish a National Forum for HCA’s and related grades where we could pursue the sector’s agenda with the employer. The launch was attended by the SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor and ICTU General Secretary Patricia King.

Working the private Sector as a HCA or related Grade?

SIPTU also represents workers in the private sector and we are currently devising a campaign that will ensure all those working in the HCA sector, public or private, will be included in the SIPTU led campaign for recognition for the role. Join today.

 

27/08/2017 Comments are off SIPTUhealth
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Sunday Read – Insecure, low paid and State policy

We’ve been hearing a lot from Fine Gael recently, about wanting Ireland to be a country that rewards work, those who work hard and get up early in the morning.

Yet, Fine Gael have been in government since 2011, and they have presided over many policies (or lack thereof) that have left many workers and hardworking people on low wages, no job security and thus not rewarded for the important work they do.

One such sector is people working in private home care as home care assistants.

Private home care assistants well qualified, on low pay and no guaranteed hours

Most private home care assistants are qualified with a minimum of FETAC level 5, however, the rate of pay averages in the region of €10.50 per hour. The zero-hour/ “if- and-when contract” is the norm in the private home care sector, where there are no guaranteed hours.

Phil (pseudonym) has worked as a home care assistant for a private company for over two years for €10.10 an hour, no guaranteed hours and no sick leave.

Flexibility that suits the employer

Having no guaranteed hours makes it easy to be controlled by management because they can simply not allocate hours the following week if a home care assistant is not able to work. Also, when it comes to getting time off from work, management manipulate home care assistants by using a lot of guilt tactics because they know that carers build a bond with their clients.

Phil said that when he had to take time off because he or one of his children was sick, management tries to pressure him into coming in by saying, “that person needs care, are you saying you won’t go into them?”

While they are entitled to holidays, a lot of obstacles are put in place as to when they can take them. At the end of the day, it has to suit the employer. This practice occurs even when they’ve applied in advance and it has been sanctioned. Phil described how he had applied for a weekend off, five months in advance. As the weekend approached, he was told that they couldn’t find a replacement for him and that he had to work.

Travelling forty minutes for a half hour call

There is also a large amount of unpaid work that carers have to do, such as traveling from one client to the other. Neither do they get paid for staying longer with the client. They are monitored through a clocking in system, to the point that if they leave five minutes early in order to get to their next client, their wages are deducted.

As Phil noted:

I don’t even know what I earned minus petrol going from home to home because they were all over Dublin; sometimes you could drive for forty minutes for the half hour you’re going there to work for. And they don’t pay you an hour’s pay for a half-hour call, they pay you half of the hour, so it just isn’t worth it.

Phil still works a half-an-hour call in order to stay employed and keep his hours, even though it isn’t worth it.

Private carers aspire to public carer’s working terms and conditions

The HSE-run services are where most home care workers aspire to be employed in.

Compared to the private sector, the average rate of pay is €15 per hour, and they have guaranteed hours negotiated into their contract so that they must be paid for a set period of time. They also have a pension, which they can avail of. Public sector carers also get paid for going from one client to the next. These terms and conditions were negotiated by their union, SIPTU.

These terms and conditions were negotiated by their union, SIPTU.

Policy encouraging precarity in home care sector

When a person needs home help, they are allocated a care package. This is about to change to care-specific packages where the client’s family can decide who they choose, which is allowing the private sector access to hours that were naturally allocated to home care workers in the public sector.

Through this move insecure, low paid working conditions are being encouraged by State policy. Rather than building on the good terms and conditions that the home care workers already enjoy in the public sector, this move carries the risk of diminishing these, as more public money is diverted to private companies who hire home care workers on these poor terms and conditions.

Furthermore, private sector companies are advertising additional services, such as Alzheimer’s care, meaning they are no longer just providing traditional home help, (light domestic duties and light medical duties). This could make it more attractive to families, not realising the working conditions for these carers.

A secure, well-paid carer is good for the client and their family

Most home care assistants want to see that their clients are looked after and that the service is built upon. They would like to remain as home care assistants, but they find the lack of security a real challenge for them. As Phil said, “I struggle through every day. I don’t think about the future because I can’t, I’m living day to day. It doesn’t make for a very secure life.”

The precarious nature of home care in the private sector has made it very transient, which also impacts on the quality of the care that a client receives because that commitment to developing and delivering a good quality of life to that person in their home diminishes.

Rather than divert funding to the private sector, the government should be building and funding the public home care sector, so as to continue to promote working practices that are positive for both the home care worker and the client.

If you would like to participate in a collaborative project between FEPS (Federation of European Progressive Studies) and TASC (Think-tank for Action on Social Change) click here

Thanks to Sinead Pembroke, a researcher at TASC for undertaking this research and making it available for SIPTUhealth.ie

20/08/2017 Comments are off SIPTUhealth
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SIPTU Meath District Council remember poet, Francis Ledwidge

This weekend, SIPTU Meath District Council remembered poet, Francis Ledwidge.

Ledwidge worked as a farm labourer, a miner, a road worker that went on to be secretary of the Slane branch of the Meath Labour Union. He then enlisted in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and was killed in action at the Battle of Passchendaele during World War I.

To us, Ledwidge’s life will always represent the vital combination of the right of workers’ to be organised and the expression of workers’ culture.

SIPTU Health member and Vice-Chair of  SIPTU Meath District Council, Tina O’Brien presented an award to Joe Ledwidge, nephew of Francis.

 

13/08/2017 Comments are off SIPTUhealth
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Sunday Read – Why a balanced budget is no path to nirvana

Expect to hear and see lots of backslapping and self-congratulation over the next 12 months as Ireland records what has been termed a “balanced budget”.

In reality, this is no great cause for celebration, given the need for significant investment in our health, care and community services. It will mean that increases in Government day-to-day spending and in capital expenditure will be at 4% in net nominal terms next year.

To put that in context, Budget 2018 which will be announced this October, provides for only €530m in new budgetary measures. €180m of which is ringfenced to fund the public service pay agreement. The agreement was supported overwhelmingly by SIPTU members last Thursday (10th August).

When compared with the dire state of the public finances in 2009, recording a “balanced budget” almost a decade later in 2018 is an important milestone in the context of the EU’s fiscal rules.

It will mean that Ireland has technically met its medium-term objective under EU fiscal rules and so it will no longer be subject to what is termed the “expenditure benchmark”.

Put simply, Irish government spending will no longer be subject to the same stringent spending caps post 2018. However, the Government plans to set aside some €500m of these available funds on an annual basis to put into a so-called “Rainy Day Fund”, from 2019 on.

The Government’s Summer Economic Statement was published in mid-July to much fanfare about the need for prudent economic management and preparation for future downturns, particularly in the context of Brexit.

The launch of the “Rainy Day Fund” is the centrepiece of this approach. The intention to stockpile savings might make sense when an economy is generating budgetary surpluses and expenditure growth is increasing at a sufficient rate to meet the needs of the growing economy.

But as it currently stands, the contingency fund will deprive the economy of necessary capital and current expenditure. Compare the economic value of hoarding money at zero interest rates with little or no return investment in strategic infrastructure with a long-term positive return and it is clear which is the more “prudent” use of money.

Finally, it is worth recalling that we already have a rainy day/contingency fund.

The Social Insurance Fund (SIF) already acts as an automatic stabiliser during periods of increasing unemployment and increased joblessness. It is funded by employer and employee PRSI payments.

So if the Government is serious about future-proofing the Irish labour market and helping workers deal with the fallout from Brexit, the rise of the gig economy and other challenges, then there is a need to put the SIF on a more sustainable basis.

05/08/2017 Comments are off SIPTUhealth
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Sunday Read – Leonomics: lost in fiscal space

After months, if not years, of shadow boxing, the Fine Gael leadership race was less Game of Thrones, and more like Mad Max. Two men entered, one man leads. Realistically, there was only ever going to be one winner. In some ways, the new Age of Leo bears all the hallmarks of what came before. His swift and seemingly inevitable ascent to the throne was a decade-long masterclass in media management and the projection of a political image. Ever-ready with a pithy soundbite, if light on ministerial accomplishment, it was a true triumph of style over substance.

That is not to say the Taoiseach is devoid of substance. Far from it. In fact, recognising Paddy’s scepticism of “ologies and isms”, he has become adept at using the dog-whistle, where once he would have blown the foghorn.

Whereas once he whipped up a frenzy of opposition to the sale of methadone in his local chemist or openly invited immigrants to self-deport, his recent leadership campaign was aimed at “people who get up early in the morning”. He has learned over the years to cloak his hard-right instincts in language that is populist and palatable. This is Leonomics: Reaganomics with Irish characteristics.

With remarkable chutzpah, and largely unchallenged by Irish media, Varadkar has seized upon the Zeitgeist of Macron-mania, styling his Government as “neither right nor left”, but of the rather vacuously-titled “new European centre”.

This after his leadership campaign put a Thatcherite nail in the coffin of Fine Gael’s Just Society tradition. Similarly, earlier this month he played fawning host to Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister and global progressive icon in the post-Obama era. The new Taoiseach sagely sought advice on how to get more women involved in politics, not a fortnight after his own Cabinet appointments were slated for being male, pale and stale.

Again, style – and novelty socks – over substance. There is one thing that hasn’t changed, however: a zealous commitment to cutting tax and shrinking the State above all other public policy concerns. This remains the North Star in the new Age of Leo.

What does all this mean for Budget 2018?

There are two big constraints on the Government as they piece together next year’s budget. The confidence and-supply agreement with Fianna Fáil stipulates that extra resources be allocated in a two-to-one ratio between more spending and less tax. The binding external constraints to EU budget rules, as well as the extra post-bailout restrictions imposed on Ireland by the Troika. Ahead of the budget, the Department of Finance estimates on the basis of forecasts for economic growth, Government spending and tax revenues, what is likely to be the maximum margin for manoeuvre in the coming year, assuming no policy changes and respecting the budget rules.

This is the so-called fiscal space. Underperforming tax revenues in the early part of 2017 had begun to pick up by the end of June, meaning full-year targets are likely to be met as Irish and international growth remains robust. Although Brexit fears are likely to increasingly weigh on UK growth going forward, the euro zone and global economies are expected to accelerate from their 2016 nadir during 2017 and 2018. But, even this margin for manoeuvre is insufficient to finance the sort of income tax cuts the new Government has set its sights on.

So, they have come up with the concept of “hidden fiscal space”, whereby cutting expenditure or raising taxes elsewhere could be used to finance income tax cuts. Of course, there is nothing ground-breaking about pointing out these possibilities. It’s just that it can be difficult to do politically, other than hiking excise on the “old reliables”.

Moreover, there’s no compelling reason why any such extra resources shouldn’t be diverted to tackling the country’s most pressing social challenges, such as the housing crisis. Already, the Government has signalled there is likely to be €550 million in fiscal space when Paschal Donohoe comes to announce the 2018 Budget in October.

In its most recent Quarterly Economic Observer, the Nevin Economic Research Institute estimated there would be only €350 million once the new public pay deal and other pre-commitments are taken into account. Recent reports suggest, however, that the Department of Finance expects to succeed in negotiations with their EU counterparts around how exactly the fiscal space is calculated, which could see it double in size to more than €1 billion.

This shows how sensitive the calculations are to the underlying assumptions. The Government has made no secret of who these income tax cuts should benefit. They want to see a reduction in the marginal rate from its current 52% to below 50%, while increasing the income threshold at which the rate kicks in as high as €40,000 for a single person.

According to the OECD, Ireland’s marginal rate of income tax is not particularly high, but it does kick in at a particularly low level. The problem from a distributional point of view is that such changes only benefit the minority of better-off workers who already pay the higher rate of tax.

At the same time, unlocking “hidden fiscal space” by cutting expenditure or by increasing indirect taxes is likely to impose the highest burden on those on the lowest incomes. Every budget from 2011 to 2016 was regressive, imposing a disproportionate burden of austerity on those least able to bear it while giving back disproportionately to the better-off once the shackles of austerity had been loosened.

Increases in welfare payments in 2017 led to a slightly more progressive outcome, though the new Taoiseach has signalled a repeat is unlikely. If Leo and Paschal get their way, the 2018 budget could be the most regressive yet.

This article was written by Vic Duggan and appeared in the latest issue of Liberty.

Keep our campaign moving – vote ‘YES’

SIPTU members have been voting in their thousands over the last four weeks on the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) in workplaces across the country.

Since November 2016 SIPTU representatives demanded that pay talks begin earlier than anticipated by Government in light of the Gardai pay deal.

This strategy complimented our division’s long standing campaign to get three key demands delivered at the recent public service pay talks.

Early pay restoration, job security, pension certainty and a road map to meaningful pay progression.

Together, we ensured that the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) achieved the following in terms of pay:

The Lansdowne Road agreement was due to expire in September 2018. The proposed Public Service Stability Agreement implements the first tranche of pay restoration from January 2018. 

  • A combination of pay and pension levy adjustments worth 7.4% to those earning €30,000 a year or less, over the lifetime of a deal.
  • A combination of pay and pension levy adjustments worth between 7.0% AND 7.4% to those earning between €30,000 and €50,000 a year, over the lifetime of a deal.
  • A combination of pay and pension levy adjustments worth 7% to those earning between €50,000 and €55,000 a year, over the lifetime of a deal
  • A combination of pay and pension levy adjustments worth between 6.6% and 6.9% for those between €55,000 and €80,000 a year, over lifetime of a deal

We did not make these gains alone. Our colleagues in IMPACT, TEEU, CPSU MLSA and others also stood with us as we argued with Government to protect decent jobs in the public service, to be carried out by public service workers, and not by “for profit” companies.

From the get go, SIPTU representatives have vigorously campaigned against the draconian FEMPI bill but the fact remains, FEMPI is still the law and will have significant adverse effect on us when the Lansdowne Road Agreement ends. A Yes vote will undoubtedly tip the balance back in favour of public service workers.

Not only does the proposed agreement provide tangible concessions on outsourcing and pay, it gives us a sight of stepping stones we need to make further progress on achieving a better work life balance for workers, a road map to the full restoration of twilight hours allowances and keeps a continued freeze on professional fees.

A strong Yes vote will send a message to Government that discussions to address the iniquities in pay arrangements for staff who entered the public service after January 2011 must be happen in the Autumn.

If accepted, the PSSA facilitates negotiations on the so-called ‘new entrants’ issue, which saw lower pay scales introduced for staff who joined the public service in 2011 and after.

Although the scales were merged in 2013, it still takes ‘new entrants’ two years longer than other public servants to reach the top of their pay scales.

If you have missed a workplace ballot please contact your local organiser or shop steward as soon as possible. Alternatively, if you would prefer to receive a postal ballot please apply here and we will send a leaflet, a ballot paper and free post return envelope to you.

Don’t let someone else decide for you. Use your vote and have your say.

For any further details on the agreement please click here

23/07/2017 Comments are off SIPTUhealth
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Sunday Read – Preserving Pension Certainty

One of the main negotiating priorities at the recent public sector pay talks was to provide members with certainty surrounding the value of their pensions – it was right up there with pay restoration and maintaining protections against privatisation.

Prior to the negotiations, the Government made clear its intention to attack the value of public service pensions. They had already passed (though not triggered) legislation to allow pensions to be indexed to inflation instead of the preferable existing link between pensions and salaries.

The government also flew its kites in the media about calculating all pensions on the basis of ‘career average’ earnings, instead of the more favourable final salary-based pension now in place for most. SIPTU, IMPACT and other unions were able to negotiate an agreement that stopped both these measures, which would have substantially reduced the value of pensions, from happening.

But every hard-fought victory has a price, and our members will now decide now if it was a price worth paying.

But first some context, the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC), whose May report had informed the Government agenda going into the talks, recommended that most public servants should pay more towards their pensions. This reflected the fact that public service pensions are worth between 12% (the union estimate) and 18% (the employer’s) more than those available in the private sector.  Other areas of the employer’s agenda could be fought off but it was impossible to simply stonewall a PSPC recommendation that the Government was determined to push through.

The end result is that an ‘additional superannuation contribution’ or ASC will replace some – though not all – of the so-called pension levy which will, in turn, be reduced by €575 a year over the lifetime of the deal.

The amount of post-pension levy ASC paid will vary depending on how much you earn. By 2020, a public service worker earning €35,000 per annum will pay €50 (or 0.14% of salary) in ASC each year. A worker on €45,000 a year will pay €1,300 (or 2.9% of salary). Those on €55,000 will pay €2,300, or 4.2% of salary.

There are two important caveats. Staff who joined the public service after January 2013 will pay a significantly lower ASC to reflect the fact that their pensions are not yet on par with pre-2013 arrangements.

And those on ‘fast accrual’ pensions (mainly firefighters, prison officers, Gardai and soldiers) will pay more as to reflect their pension benefits.

The ASC comes on top of the 6.5% that virtually all public service workers already pay towards their pensions, but the so-called pension levy will be gone.

And, when pay adjustments are taken into account, there will be a net gain of 7-7.5% for 73% of public service workers and every SIPTU member working in health will be removed from the FEMPI legislation.

When SIPTU’s elected national executive council met to discuss the proposals, it considered that the additional contributions were on balance a price worth recommending in exchange for the substantial gain of keeping the value of pensions intact, protecting our members against the threat of wholesale privatisation and given our members early pay restoration and a roadmap to pay progression.

Importantly, union negotiators also ensured that the proposed pay deal specifically links the additional superannuation contribution to the existing level of pension benefits. By spelling it out in black and white that the ASC “is intended to underpin the sustainability of public service pensions” the agreement makes it far more difficult for future Governments to interfere with your hard-fought for pension benefits.

When pay adjustments are taken into account, there will be a net gain for everyone – through pay restoration (6.8% – 9% for all SIPTU members) job security and certainty over the value of your pension when you retire.

Don’t leave it to others. Read the agreement. Have your say. Use your vote.

Public Service Stability Agreement – For Certainty, For Security, For Progress click here

16/07/2017 Comments are off SIPTUhealth
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Sunday Read – Outsourcing, pensions, balloting.

Last week, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) confirmed what SIPTU Health representatives have long since said, that outsourcing is not a cost-effective way of delivering public services.

The review found that the privatisation of service delivery “has not emerged as systematically viable options for public service provision”.

It says this may be related to cultural resistance towards outsourcing among trade unionists, public service managers and politicians.

The OECD found that the Second Reform Programme had by and large been successful in completing the majority of the activities it set out to achieve but that by focusing on outcomes Government can help to overcome vested interests that resist reform.

It notes that public service numbers fell from a peak of 320,387 in 2008 to 288,217 in 2013, but by the end of last year had risen again to 306,578.

These numbers confirm the immense contribution SIPTU members and public service workers have made over the crisis years by delivering additional services with less staff. The OECD review cites savings from additional working hours, reduced pension benefits, and sick leave.

The OECD notes that more efficient public procurement was predicted to deliver savings of €500 million out of a government spend of €9.5 billion a year. Those savings were closer to €160 million in the first three years to the end of 2015, and €300 million of enabled savings to the end of 2016.

The OECD team noted problems in recruiting procurement specialists, due to a shortage of such professionals.

It said moves to improve transparency and accountability had been largely successful, thanks to legislation on freedom of information, protected disclosures, and lobbying.

There were 230 actions in the Second Reform Programme, but it was not immediately apparent which of the 230 should be prioritised for closer attention, or were key to delivering impact for citizens.

The OECD says that many of the changes require specialist skills in areas like digitalisation and data science, but that these were difficult to find in a civil service system which emphasises generalist profiles.

They warn that the employer may have to look at non-financial motivators including career paths and flexible working opportunities to recruit the right candidates.

In other news, SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell took to the airwaves last week after Liberty Hall was inundated with phone calls from members irate about the ERSI report into the pension age. Bell was on Today with Sean O’Rourke in the morning discussing the ERSI proposals to extend the retirement age to 70.

According to the State-supported, Economic and Social Research Institute workers should not get the State pension until they reach the age of 70

Moving the statutory retirement age to 70 they say would counteract a fall in the workforce and the rise in the number of pensioners which currently sees the State’s bill spiral by €1bn every five years due to our ageing population.

Mr Bell described the proposals as “ridiculous and regressive” and called for a serious negotiation with Government to defuse the ticking pension time bomb by considering a second pillar pension system.

You can see the video report from TV3 here.

Meanwhile, voting on the proposed new pay deal, the ‘Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020,’ is continuing in workplaces across the country. SIPTU members who are eligible to vote can do so up until 9th August if they want to have their say.

The elected SIPTU National Executive Council has recommended acceptance of the proposed deal, which was the outcome of over two weeks of negotiations that concluded last month. Now it’s up to the members, and SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell, has urged all members to use their vote.

“The proposed agreement will deliver increases in pay and pension protections for all health workers, plus important safeguards on outsourcing as well as incremental credit for HSE interns. The most important thing now is that all members have their say and don’t let someone else decide their future for them,” he said.