"We believe it's fair and reasonable" - Private sector unions to seek 4% pay rise

Minister Paschal Donohoe is meeting with the ICTU this evening

"We believe it's fair and reasonable" - Private sector unions to seek 4% pay rise

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Private sector unions are to seek a 4% pay rise for their members next year.

It follows a meeting of the private sector committee this morning.

The union say the claim would see full-time workers receive a minimum increase of €1,000 next year.

The chairperson of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) private sector committee John Douglas told Newstalk Drive what the union wants.

"The private sector of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, which covers the whole private sector, met today - and based on the economic evidence that we have, we believe it's fair and reasonable for 2017 to lodge claims right across the private sector of 4% per annum with a minimum increase of €1,000 for a full-time worker".

It comes as Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he is sticking by the Lansdowne Road public pay agreement, despite some unions and opposition parties declaring it to be dead.

Mr Kenny said the Government will respond to pay demands by public servants with a strategy that looks at the entirety of the public service.

The issue was discussed earlier at Cabinet and the Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe is meeting with the ICTU this evening.

Mr Kenny told the Dáil earlier that all the pay demands simply cannot be met at one time.

"Lansdowne Road has proven to be a central tenet of public pay in the country - and we stand by Lansdowne Road.

"The ceilings have been set out, the minister does not have the monies that are being demanded - and so there's a need in everybody's interests to have a well-managed process and strategy by which these things can be talked about and discussed in detail and a pathway forward negotiated".

IMO unrest

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) is the latest union to say it will ballot members - specifically non consultant hospital doctors - on industrial action.

The Government pulled out of talks on restoring junior doctors' "living out allowance", which is worth around €3,000 a year.

Speaking about yesterday's decision, Dr John Duddy - President of the IMO - said: "Doctors will have no choice now but to consider all avenues to have our issues resolved including industrial action.

"No doctor wants to strike and indeed it would be with great reluctance that we would embark on such an action but in the face of a Government that behaves in such a manner we will have no choice." 

In a statement last night, the public expenditure and health ministers said: "The particular issue of the ‘Living Out Allowance’ which is under consideration by both parties (Management and IMO) involves potentially significant exchequer resources which have not been provided for in either the current or next year’s budgetary provision.

"Accordingly, this issue would need to be considered in the context of wider Public Sector engagement," it adds.

The latest action follows a series of industrial disputes in the public sector, including those involving gardaí and secondary school teachers.

The Government has repeatedly insisted there is no extra money available to fund widespread public sector pay restoration and economist Colm McCarthy told Newstalk Breakfast the "unspoken intention" seems to be to borrow on the international market.