The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013 was enacted on 5 June 2013. The primary purpose of the legislation is to implement the proposed pay reduction for public servants earning salaries of €65,000 and the parallel reduction in public service pensions of more than €32,500. Contingency measures that may be deployed to secure the necessary reductions in the public service pay and pensions bill also are included, including provisions for a universal freeze on pay increments. The Act also affirms that the person, which may be a line Minister or other public service body, that has the power to determine terms and conditions of employment may exercise that power to reduce non-core rates of pay or to increase hours worked. However, as Members are aware, under the legislation a facility is provided for unions and representative associations to conclude collective agreements with their public service employers. Where a union has signed up to a collective agreement, now called the Haddington Road agreement, that will avoid the need for those contingency measures to be used.
It is a matter for public servants and their representative unions and associations to decide if they wish to conclude a collective agreement with their employers. This issue is currently subject to consideration by ballot by those unions and those members concerned. I do not wish to comment directly during that process, although I welcome the decision today of SIPTU, the biggest union, to endorse the Haddington Road agreement by a significant margin of 76%. With regard to those grades represented by a union which does not conclude a collective agreement under the Act, as well as the increment freeze that will apply directly under the terms of the Act, the relevant decision maker will be obliged to take the necessary measures to meet the targeted pay-bill savings this year and in following years.