The Minister for Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform, Paschal Donohoe has invited public service unions and staff representative associations to enter negotiations with the Government on a new public sector pay agreement.
The talks will take place under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
The current public sector pay deal, Building Momentum, is due to expire at the end of the year.
In recent weeks, the Fórsa and SIPTU trade unions had threatened industrial action if the Government failed to engage on a successor agreement.
“Having discussed the matter with my Government colleagues, I believe an opportunity now exists for the parties to intensify efforts to try to agree an appropriate successor agreement to Building Momentum,” Mr Donohoe said.
“All parties will have particular issues they want to see addressed and I believe the best way to now work through these issues is with the expert assistance of the Workplace Relations Commission,” he added.
Mr Donohoe said the discussions will be challenging but he believes that there is scope for all parties to engage constructively towards an agreement.
“Any agreement has to be appropriate to the context the country is currently facing and must be sustainable in the face of considerable global uncertainty – both economic and geopolitical,” Mr Donohoe said.
“I will be issuing invitations to the parties today to engage with Government and I would hope that discussions can get underway as soon as possible,” he added.
The Public Service Committee (PSC) of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said it noted the invitation to talks and will consider its response at a meeting of its officers tomorrow.
Unions have said a successor pay agreement would need to be negotiated and ratified before the current deal expires.
In a statement, the PSC said it agreed its priority objectives for a future pay deal in September, with particular emphasis on securing appropriate pay measures in response to continuing cost-of-living pressures.
“Unions have also identified the normalisation of ‘post-crisis’ public service industrial relations as a key priority, with appropriate access to the WRC and the Labour Court, and the final dismantling of remaining emergency legislation,” the PSC said.
“Unions want a focus on the stabilisation of any future agreement, by seeking to resolve outstanding issues affecting a number of public service grades, groups and categories, in addition to measures to ensure the ‘future-proofing’ of quality public services and public service employment,” unions said in a statement.
SIPTU Deputy General Secretary John King is a member of the ICTU Public Services Committee.
Speaking to reporters at the SIPTU Biennial Delegate Conference in Galway, Mr King said they would consider the invitation to talks but that any future negotiations will be difficult.
“I think we still need to be satisfied that the basis for an agreement is there,” Mr King said.
“We need to have an understanding than the agreement on the key issues is possible.”
“The grade-related claims process and issues in relation to the future of public service growth. We need to have some kind of understanding that we’re going to be able to cover off those things in an agreement,” he added.