World Bulletin/News Desk
The Irish government struck an agreement with the largest public-sector trade unions on Monday to extend a pay deal that has been credited with avoiding industrial unrest during the country's financial crisis.
Union and government officials reached a deal on an update to the Croke Park agreement to provide savings of 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) over three years, a key part of efforts to meet targets under Ireland's 85 billion euro EU-IMF bailout.
But the deal still needs the approval of union members and six smaller trade unions have so far refused to back it, leaving opening the possibility of industrial unrest.
"We have achieved far more through negotiation than we could have hoped to gain through protests," said Shay Cody, the chair of the public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, an umbrella body.
Officials from the SIPTU and IMPACT trade unions, the country's largest, said a deal had been reached after overnight negotiations.
IMPACT said the deal ensured that there would be no compulsory redundancies in the public service, but that higher paid workers would accept pay cuts.
Over-time payments have been cut, while workers will receive a 75 percent premium for working on Sunday, down from 100 percent, IMPACT said.
Irish trade unions' close cooperation with successive governments has helped Ireland to make greater progress than any other troubled euro zone debtor in reviving its economy despite deep budget cuts.
Public servants took wage cuts averaging 15 percent before making agreements in the Croke Park deal, which was signed up to by Ireland's strongest public sector unions in March 2010.
"All public sector workers have already made a significant contribution to our economic recovery, however, these further measures are absolutely required to achieve a sustainable payroll cost," spending minister Brendan Howlin said.Last Mod: 25 Şubat 2013, 14:55