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Pay Talks Update: Litmus Test Looming

There is little to report on the outcome of day nine (Thursday, 1st June) of the pay talks other then, they were brief and dull. SIPTU representatives attended a couple of sessions in the afternoon on sectoral issues in health as well as discussions on education and the civil service.

However, we had no real or meaningful engagement with management on the bread and butter issue of pay. Indeed, management seems more than content to head off for the bank holiday weekend without putting concrete proposals that are “fit for ballot” on the table.

Yesterday, the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, addressed our colleagues in IMPACT at their Health Conference in Wexford where he said he thought a deal could be done.

IMPACT General Secretary and Chairman of the Public Service Committee of Congress, Shay Cody, reiterated to his delegates that management would have to ditch its outsourcing proposals – and come up with something of substance on pay restoration – before any deal could be put to a ballot.

Today (Friday, 2nd June), we enter our tenth day of talks. A day that was earmarked by Government as the final day when the process started but after two weeks the sides are miles away from an agreement that will acceptable to our members.

It is deeply concerning and regrettable that over the last number of days management has demonstrated an indifference to our members’ concerns on pay. It is very difficult for SIPTU Health representatives to have confidence in a process where management continues to make productivity demands which far exceed those made of us throughout the period of austerity.

The majority of workers in the health service have been doing more work for less pay for many years. They feel that the time is now right for some pay back.

It is likely that Tuesday and Wednesday of next week will be the litmus test in this round of negotiations. Our core demands on pay restoration, pension levy reduction, no outsourcing, and pensions – including staff contributions to their costs will be ironed out and the issues of working time, recruitment and new entrants’ pay will be determined one way or another.

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