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Pay Talks Update: Closing in on crunch time

Yesterday (Tuesday, 30th May), on day seven of the pay talks, there was an anticlimactic engagement with management on the restoration of overtime rates. Unions then demanded more consistency in the application of family-friendly arrangements across the public service.

A number of union spokespeople acknowledged the fact that good family-friendly practices like flexi-time, term-time working and job-sharing had been adopted and were working well in many parts of our public services.

Union representatives said local managers had too much discretion, which meant family-friendly arrangements were often blocked by bosses who see them simply as a perk, meaning workers in some areas are losing out.

This should be a win-win situation. Family-friendly working helps employers retain staff, encourages increased female participation in the workforce (which is a Government objective), and makes life more manageable and affordable for working families and others with caring responsibilities.

SIPTU representatives and our colleagues in IMPACT have suggested that an extension to the Lansdowne Road Agreement should set down best practice, and establish a process to deal with disputes over its local and sectoral implementation.

Management hasn’t blinked on that issue, but union representatives are sure to return to this before talks conclude.

As we enter day eight (Wednesday, 31st May) we are no closer to a deal than we were on day one. It is very unlikely that any proposal that crucially would be good enough to pass a ballot of our membership will be concluded before the Bank Holiday weekend.

The only thing that all sides are currently agreed upon is that next week will be crunch-time in this talks process.

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