Pay restoration depends on willing parties, says WRC director

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfst, Oonagh Buckley said it isn't up to the commission to bring up pensions

Pay restoration depends on willing parties, says WRC director

The Workplace Relations Commision (WRC) | Image:

Director of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Oonagh Buckley says it is isn't a matter for the commission to say whether pensions are on the table in pay talks or not.

Her comments come as the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants begin their Annual Delegate Conference today, with pay restoration, pension entitlements and staff retention on the agenda.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Buckley says public sector pay restoration depends on how willing parties are to reach agreement.

"Pay discussions are very complex because there's so many people involved," she said. "Trade unions represent over 300,000 public servants. The employer representatives represent probably over 1,000 employer. There's a huge amount of expectation involved."

Buckley adds that while the WRC hasn't been formally presented with issues concerning pay restoration in the public sector, she believes the commission will be asked to get involved shortly.

However, she stresses that it is not the WRC's job to put any issue on the table for discussion - including the issue of pensions.

"Pensions are a really important part of the landscape to support people as the population ages, and the includes public service payments. 

"It's a matter for each side to come in and say 'these are the things we need to talk about if we want to come to an agreement.'"

Buckley concluded by saying that the number of industrial disputes in the country has risen, but the figure is still small in comparison to our European counterparts.

Earlier this month, Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said public pay talks will be "incredibly challenging".

"I believe the negotiations are going to be in incredibly challenging," he said. "There is a huge level of expectation but there's also a huge level of need within our public service.

"The need that I am clear on though is that we have to have an agreement that is affordable [and] that is fair to everybody."