Ezine – February 2016
E-zine – 01/2016 Members
Dear Branch Secretary,
As members are aware the Lansdowne Road Agreement (which is an extension of the Haddington Road Agreement) provides for the restoration of the 1/7/13 pay cut suffered exclusively by those earning over €65,000. The restoration is to happen in two phases: 2.75% on 1st April 2017 and 2.75% on 1st January 2018. This is part of the unwinding of the FEMPI legislation. Members have already seen that on 1/1/16, by virtue of the widening of the exemption levels for the so called pension levy, individuals benefited by €1,000 that is a gross figure subject to taxation. The pension levy will still exist on 1/1/18 and together with the pay cut imposed in 2010 it means members will on average be 14% below 2008 which is the last time our grades received a pay increase. Our net pay is back to that of 2002 and we continue to emphasise the Assistant Principal Officer is 20% and the Principal Officer 30% behind current pay levels in the private sector according to research we have had carried out. We have taken legal advice on FEMPI and as the economy continues to improve and we exit the corrective arm of the Stability and Growth pact, we will again seek advice on the FEMPI legislation and continue to monitor the position. It is a priority for the Executive to reverse the pay cuts suffered under the FEMPI legislation.
It is timely that an independent pay mechanism is introduced for our grades as the aforementioned gap with private sector pay will widen as pay increases continue to apply in the private sector. The economy is in recovery and our pay cannot be left to significantly lag behind if the public service is to attract and hold the best people. To advance the position the Executive Committee has agreed to commission a major piece of research on pay to fully evaluate the work performed by our grades and link this to private sector comparators. This will require the participation of members and we believe will provide the necessary independent verification of the extent of the gap in pay with the private sector. This will be an evidence based approach for full publication.
Report on the Hustings Event of 2/2/16
This pre-election event was held in the Mount Clare Hotel and attended by Eoghan Murphy TD of Fine Gael, Pat Rabbitte TD of Labour, Sean Fleming TD of Fianna Fáil, Eoin Ó Broin of Sinn Féin, Eamon Ryan of the Green Party and Michael Gargan of Renua. It was chaired by Harry McGee of the Irish Times and was well attended by members.
On the matter of restoration of the 2013 third pay cut, all parties including Sinn Féin indicated support for this and the Lansdowne Road Agreement although Sinn Féin said their focus was on the lower paid.
On our policy of having an independent pay mechanism all parties were again in support except Eamon Ryan who said the broad budget is set by Cabinet and to disconnect this from an independent pay assessment was not feasible.
On the matter of the link with TDs’ pay the General Secretary drew attention to the manner in which our grades were excluded from the September 2017 €1,000 flat rate payment under the Lansdowne Road Agreement thereby targeting those on pay scales above €65,000. He said the Association had specifically identified that this was for political reasons because the TD pay was linked to that of Principal Officer. In that situation he said the Association was compelled to call for the link to be broken as it disadvantaged our grades. He also reiterated the point that our pay scales need to be brought to a level where the best people would be attracted to the Civil Service.
There was also a discussion on the gender imbalance that exists at senior levels in the Civil Service. The parties agreed that this was a priority issue. The General Secretary said that the right conditions for women to apply for promotions needed to be in place. In this regard the Haddington Road Agreement was very anti-family-friendly.
Family Friendly Issues
The Haddington Road Agreement [HRA] introduced a range of anti-family measures including this curtailment of flexi time. It’s a major priority for the Association and the Executive Committee has been pursuing the matter over the last year. The Executive also intends tabling motion(s) to ADC and we understand particular branches are doing likewise. There was no real justification for the curtailment of FWH under the HRA as there are no cost savings. In our view it’s an ideological perspective that is extremely anti-family as is the requirement to have a minimum 50% attendance in work-sharing arrangements. Newly promoted Assistant Principal Officers continue to be excluded from having Flexible Working Hours [FWH] in departments where their colleagues have the facility. This is not fair. Unfortunately, while the HRA allowed those with FWH to retain the facility, new entrants to the grade were excluded. The Official Side wanted to remove FWH completely for all APs and only relented somewhat at the 9th hour in allowing it to remain for those who held FWH. This followed heavy lobbying from the Association.
There are also indications that the absence of FWH is a barrier to promotion with some HEOs preferring to remain at that grade rather than lose FWH under the current restriction.
Open Principal Officer
Our understanding is that PAS has appointed 20 individuals and has thereby reached no 29. They have cleared down to number 40 on the panel. DPER has not reverted to us with proposals as to how long the panel will remain in place. The Association is conscious that while the panel was announced before the summer there was little or no movement off the panel until late in 2015. As you are aware the sequence for appointment at Principal Officer Grade, as imposed by the Arbitration Board, is two open followed by one internal appointment. The Association continues to press DPER to run an inter-departmental PO1 competition.
The New Union Project
The Executive Committee recently decided to disengage from this process. The Executive did not see a future for us in the discussions and left the process in a manner that did not damage the efforts of the other unions to continue the process. The other unions have offered that we can still attend in an observatory capacity and are welcome to return to the process at any stage in the future. It is understood that we continue to fully support the advancement of all unions working closely together on the Staff Side at departmental or industrial relations councils.
The Annual Delegate Conference will be held on Friday 6th of May. All Branch AGMs have to be completed by Friday 18th of March, as this is the last date for receipt of motions and nominations. Over the last few weeks AHCPS Officials have been attending branch AGMs.
Membership Plus Card
Reminder to re-register your new Membership Plus discount card for 2016 which have been forwarded to Branch Secretaries for distribution. Membership Plus discount card enable members to avail of discounts at a wide range shops, restaurants, services, etc. www.membershipplus.ie
24 February 2016