LOOKING after lower-paid workers better pro rata than their higher-paid colleagues, with flat-rate rather than percentage increases, is the main achievement of the new public sector pay deal, called the Lansdowne Road Agreement, which will see them coming out with €1,000 per annum increases both next year and the year after. The cost of the deal will be an extra €566m over three years, according to Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, who obviously wanted to head off any potential industrial unrest ahead of the forthcoming general election, while at the same time getting commitments from the unions on greater productivity from their members.
This is a continuation of the thrust of the Haddington Road Agreement and it would be interesting to see if the commitments given on efficiencies in that were all achieved. With pay increases being given as part of the Lansdowne Road Agreement, the promised extra productivity needs to be measured and achieved, as is done in the private sector, and delivery of public services substantially improved.
Some of the increases in take-home pay will be achieved through revisions of the application of the public sector pension levy, which has irked people in the private sector who are not guaranteed defined pensions. To achieve these at the moment, the government is making up the shortfall in employee contributions towards public pension payments, out of current expenditure, to the tune of €1bn a year.
While not a sweetheart deal on the grand scale of Fianna Fáil’s benchmarking largesse of a decade ago, the Lansdowne Road Agreement will keep Howlin’s Labour Party popular with the powerful public sector unions and may even help arrest some of the huge electoral slippage that has been forecast for the party.