The current system of collective agreements has been in place in the public service since the Croke Park agreement was negotiated back in 2010. These collective agreements have helped to ensure that public pay is managed in a sustainable, affordable and orderly manner. These agreements have also enabled significant reform of public services and changes to work practices.
The current public service agreement, the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, has provided for benefits to different income groups, ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over three years, and up to 10% for new entrant members of the single public service pension scheme. At the end of the agreement, financial emergency measures in the public interest pay reductions were reversed for all public servants earning up to €70,000, which equates to almost 90% of public servants. In addition, an agreement under the framework of the PSSA was reached with the Irish Congress for Trade Unions, ICTU, in 2018 to deal with the issue of new entrant pay. The final pay adjustment of the current agreement was implemented as planned on 1 October last, with pay for public servants increased by 2%. Also on 1 October, fixed allowances were increased by between 5% and 8% as part of the unwinding of pay reductions set out under the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017.
The Government was determined to ensure the current agreement was honoured in full, not least in recognition of the contribution that public servants have made in supporting the country through this unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. As the Deputy is aware, I have instructed my officials to engage in exploratory talks with the public services committee of ICTU to establish if there is a basis for a successor agreement to the PSSA that would ensure pay stability, industrial peace and the delivery of quality public services. These exploratory discussions are ongoing. As the Deputy will appreciate, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the detail of those talks, which should remain confidential to the parties. These are difficult discussions taking place against a difficult backdrop but there is real value for both sides in having a deal and I sincerely hope one can be agreed.