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21.30 8 May 2019


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Public sector workers could demand a pay increase of 6% if the government doesn't reduce their working hours.

The country's largest public sector union is calling for a mid-term review of their current pay deal, and says restoring pre-crisis working hours is essential.

A review of the pay agreement, reduced working hours, and calls for a referendum to ensure Irish Water stays in public ownership will dominate the three-day Fórsa conference, which got underway in Kilkenny today.

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The union has said confidence in the existing pay deal for public servants is "shaken".

Fórsa represents over 23,000 civil servants and 9,000 local authority staff.

Delegates are gathering in Kilkenny for two separate conferences, but pay will be a common theme.

Pay review

Incoming Fórsa General-Secretary Kevin Callinan is calling for a mid-term review of the public sector pay agreement, claiming confidence in the current agreement is shaken in the wake of the deal with nurses.

He's telling members that six years after working hours were increased under Haddington Road, they are left with yet another two-tier public service problem which leaves those on low and middle incomes losing out.

He also said if working hours aren't reduced, unions could lodge a pay claim.

Mr Callinan observed: "If the hours aren't reversed, it's inevitable it seems to me that there will be a productivity claim.

"The hours are worth around 6% in rough figures... it varies from group to group.

"That would be almost like an additional claim that could emerge if we don't find a way to deal with the issue."

The Department of Finance has said restoring the hours would cost €60m.

Irish Water will be another key talking point at the conference, with the union calling for a referendum to ensure it remains in public ownership and railing against council staff being transferred to it.

Other motions to be debated include the need for more public housing, and a proposal to reduce commuting emissions by facilitating more regional or home-based work.

Reporting by Shane Beatty

Main image: Kevin Callinan. Image: Shane Beatty


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