Public service unions, including Fórsa and SIPTU, have met with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for discussions on dealing more rapidly with the problem of pay equity for new entrants to the public service. In the pay changes implemented as part of austerity measures in 2011, two additional points were added to the first two pay grades for new starters. This means that they need two more years to reach the top of their pay grades compared to higher grades. The unions argue that with economic growth and higher tax revenues, it should be possible to tackle this issue in advance of the next formal round of collective bargaining. There are around 60,513 new entrants, making up 19% of public service workers, who are affected.
Unions push for pay equity for new entrants
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Public service trade unions have secured talks with the government to deal with the issue of low pay for new entrants. In 2011, as part of austerity measures, the government introduced two new lower pay grades for new recruits. This was not agreed by trade unions at the time and they have continued to demand action by the government. It is estimated that 60000 workers have been taken on since 2011 and have started on these lower rates of pay.
The OSZSP health and social care union met with ministry of health officials earlier this month to discuss staffing levels in the social care sector. The union has been pushing hard for the government to introduce safe and effective staffing levels. It underlines the need for this to be done on the basis of real assessment of needs and not on the basis of current staffing levels as many institutions are understaffed and staff overworked. The union also wants increased funding for providers which it sees as necessary to increase staff and tackle low pay in the sector where the average wage is
The FNV trade union is involved in two major campaigns. The first, running from 1-5 September, is a nationwide action across health and social care in response to COVID-19. The union wants to see proper recognition of the role played by health and social care workers and is calling for better pay and working conditions, reduced workloads and more autonomy for workers. The FNV is underlining the importance of preparing for a second wave of the pandemic and argues that action is needed to make the health and care sectors more attractive to increase recruitment. Meanwhile, the union is running a