Firefighters deal could highlight "one route out of" potential public service disputes

Under a new deal announced yesterday, firefighters hired after 2012 will regain a €4,500 rent allowance

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There has been a breakthrough in pay talks for firefighters as the Government agrees to reverse cuts for new recruits.

Under the the deal, firefighters hired after 2012 will regain a €4,500 rent allowance which was scrapped at the time.

Acting Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin and Acting Environment Minister Alan Kelly announced yesterday they had agreed to the revised salary scale in principal.

In return, the firefighters are said to be prepared to work on productivity as part of a reform package within the fire service - known as Keeping Communities Safe.

Industry Correspondent with The Irish Times, Martin Wall, broke the story and says the new pay agreement will undoubtedly set a precedent for other public sector staff.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Wall explained that "the real message of yesterday was not really to firefighters - although that was very important - the real message was being sent to guards and teachers.

"If groups are prepared to work with the Government, if they're prepared to agree productivity reforms, and importantly if they're prepared to operate within public service agreements - such as the Lansdowne Road Agreement - then the way is open to negotiating reversals of allowances," he explained.

However, he added that "representative organisations for gardaí and teachers have rejected the Lansdowne Road agreement. As things stand at the moment, they are heading towards industrial relations unrest...

"This is potentially one route out of it, and we'll have to wait and see what the reaction of the unions will be".