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Pay Talks Update: Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

Yesterday, (Tuesday, 23rd May) we reported outsourcing was firmly on management’s agenda.

Management wants to weaken existing protections in the Lansdowne Road agreement (LRA), which prevent outsourcing on a ‘race to the bottom’ basis.

At present, if management wants to outsource a service or part of a service, the LRA requires it to consult with unions and produce a business plan setting out the case for what it calls ‘external service delivery.’

Crucially, it can’t cite labour costs or pay as part of the business plan.

Abandoning the ‘labour cost’ provision would mean pretty much every business case would support outsourcing – on the basis of minimum wage and a race to the bottom for services and working standards.

SIPTU representatives made it clear that there’d be no agreement that didn’t protect the hard-fought gains for working people in the public service.

Today (Wednesday, 24th, May) from 10.30 am, SIPTU representatives will set out the case for the restoration of the so-called ‘Croke Park hours’. This is won’t be easy, not least because Minister Paschal Donohoe has said keeping the additional hours is a ‘red line’ for him and Government.

We also expect to hear more from management on employee pension contributions.

One or two readers have asked us why we’re even discussing management’s productivity wish-list in talks that are meant to centre on pay restoration. It’s a fair question.

But, aside from the fact that the Public Service Pay Commission said additional productivity was required in exchange for pay restoration, the simple answer is that these are negotiations where either side can table whatever they want.

Unions want to talk about things management would sooner not discuss, and vice versa.

Later in the process, we’ll have a clearer picture of the bottom lines.

For the moment, union representatives remain absolutely focused on the key objectives of protecting the value of pensions and unwinding FEMPI as quickly as sustainably possible.

In the meantime, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

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