Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants

                                   

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Ezine - November 2015

(25 Nov 2015)

Ezine - November 2015

PAY, the need for an Independent Wage Evaluation Mechanism and Breaking the Link

It bears repeating that our members have suffered three pay cuts under the Financial Measures in the Public Interest [FEMPI] Acts that imposed an average reduction of 22%. FEMPI 3 (linked to the Haddington Road Agreement) was particularly vicious targeting the so called higher paid earning in excess of €65,000. Under the Lansdowne Road Agreement (which is an extension of the Haddington Road Agreement) the restoration of the 3rd of these cuts (the 5.5% pay cut suffered on 1/7/13 specific to those earning over €65,000) is to happen in two phases: 2.75% on the 1st of April 2017 and 2.75% on the 1st of January 2018. We have shown that even with this restoration by 2018, our pay will still on average be 14% below 2008 pay levels.

Our members voted 87% against the Lansdowne Road Agreement as we were specifically excluded from the flat rate increase of €1,000 available on 1/9/17 to those on salaries below €65,000 and members wished to highlight the widening gulf with private sector pay. We have noted that the Minister has accepted the aggregate vote of the Public Service Committee of ICTU as the majority of unions accepted the proposals. AHCPS members will benefit from the reduction in the pension levy receiving €733 in 2016 and roughly €1,000 per annum from 2017 onwards via the widening of the exemption limit. This increase is subject to taxation. Those public service unions who have indicated that they are opposing the LRA face a freezing of increments as outlined in the FEMPI 2015 Bill.

Our net pay is currently at 2002 levels and ESRI research has indicated that it lags considerably behind the private sector. Our own figures (outlined at the most recent ADC) identified this gap as 20% for an Assistant Principal Officer and 30% for Principal Officers. The existence of this wide gap is why the Association highlighted in our October E-zine the need for an independent pay determination mechanism. Principal Officers are also seriously disadvantaged by the direct link of TDs to their pay and by consequence politicians in general. An independent pay determination mechanism should break this link. To advance this position the Executive Committee has decided to commission a comprehensive piece of research on members pay levels vis a vis the private sector.

The Sunday Independent article of 22/11/15 titled ‘Public sector revolving door is damaging for the State’ further reinforces the disparity between public and private sector pay. The article addressed the pay of top civil servants and the manner in which the lure of massive private sector wages is slowly decimating the public service. The General Secretary is quoted in the article (from our ADC in May 2015) as saying “senior public servants are increasingly tempted by high salaries offered by the likes of large multinational companies operating in Ireland. It’s a competitive market out there, particularly when the Government is competing in the marketplace for talent. In order to retain people with the right skills, the civil service needs to be resourced in the right way”. 
The full article can be accessed here.

The recent Open PO Competition is also indicative of this pay gap as it attracted minimum interest from the private sector with less than 15% from this category on the final panel. It remains to be seen how many of these will take up offers but it is apparent that net pay post the imposition of the pension levy is creating a push back. In the coming months the Association will seek to turn into reality commitments from Minister Howlin and some of the political parties for an independent wage evaluation mechanism.

The AHCPS has wrongly remained a low priority yet our members have provided the leadership in the Civil and Public Service that has significantly advanced the economic recovery. The vast experience and expertise of Principal Officers and Assistant Principal Officers will yet again be brought to bear under the Civil Service Renewal Programme. The Association is fully committed to this and other reforms but it is time to ensure that this expertise is safeguarded and that there is an appropriate rate of pay comparable to pay levels in the private sector for such high service delivery.

A link to the Dáil debates on FEMPI from Wednesday of last week can be accessed here. It makes for interesting reading. Sinn Féin have made their position very clear. No restoration (whatsoever) for those earning over €65,000.

Liaison with Political Parties

As part of our policy to have pay independently determined the Association is arranging in January to invite representatives from all the political parties to a pre-election Consultative Council (Hustings type event) to address this issue and similar concerns. This event will be for Association members only. In addition an election questionnaire will be issued to the parties and a full report will be circulated to members.

Open PO Competition

We continue to engage with DPER to try to resolve the impasse concerning the sequences. DPER had decided that the first two appointments in a sequence must be from the Open Panel. The Association’s position is that the first appointment in a sequence has always been internal. Unless the matter can soon be resolved it may be necessary to proceed to arbitration.

In the meantime we have urged DPER to progress appointments from the Open Panel as we are equally conscious of members awaiting appointment from the panel. We understand that offers have been made and the first appointments are imminent.

New Union Project

Discussions between the CPSU, PSEU, IMPACT, AHCPS & VOA are continuing in relation to the possibility of forming a new union. It is fair to say that the Association, while continuing to engage in discussions, does have concerns on a number of issues. All talks are exploratory, under the aegis of ICTU, and no decisions will be made without the approval of members.

Review of the Disciplinary and Underperformance Policies

The Association has been represented at all meetings of the technical group working on these policies. This involves representatives from all of the Staff Side of Unions together with DPER representatives and Personnel Officers from key departments. The work is nearing completion and a number of amendments have been agreed to the original draft documents.

Services to Members

The Executive Committee has decided to renew the membership plus cards issued free to members for 2015. The 2016 cards will shortly be distributed and it will be necessary to register your card once it is received. It is also recommended that members spend a little time on the Membership Plus Website familiarising themselves with the various locations where discounts can be received. This applies to your work area, place of residence or if you are visiting other locations as a little work on the site will provide you with an indication of where you can reap the benefits.

The Association has recently added Rockwell Financial Management for AHCPS Group Mortgage quotations for first time buyers and existing mortgage holders looking to switch or move home. Contact details will shortly be available on our website but in the meantime the details are info@rockwellfinancial.ie with the website www.rockwellfinancial.ie at 01 -2966129.
Details of all of the schemes offered to members can be found here.

 

 

© 2018 Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants

  • Fleming's Hall 12 Fleming's Place Dublin 4 
  • Phone: +353 1 6686077 / 6686064
  • Fax: +353 1 6686380
  • Email: info@ahcps.ie

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Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants