Members were advised in Branch Secretary Circular CS 17/15 that pay negotiations had commenced. Since then Trade Union Side has been engaged in a number of bilateral discussions with NICS Management and also had the opportunity to meet with the Finance Minister, Arlene Foster.
The negotiations have, as expected, proved difficult against the backdrop of the Treasury 1% limit on public sector pay bill increases and the austerity measures under which Departmental budgets have been severely cut.
When meeting with the Minister the NIPSA delegation set out the justification for the 2015 NICS pay claim. This included the need to have a consolidated pay increase in addition to the application of incremental progression particularly in light of the fact that 52% of staff are now on pay scale maxima. The Minister outlined the difficult public expenditure climate but did indicate a modest consolidate increase might be approved linked to potential changes to some terms covered by pay negotiations. While these were tabled in subsequent bilateral discussions it was not possible to reach any agreement as the type of protections sought on behalf of members could not be obtained.
As a result NIPSA has now been advised that the Minister for Finance and Personnel is to proceed to implement the 2015 pay arrangements. This will be effective from 1 August 2015 and cover the reporting year 1 April 2014 -31 March 2015 as follows:
- all eligible satisfactory performers to receive a one step progression with effect from 1 August 2015, subject to band maxima
- all eligible satisfactory performers receiving less than a 1% consolidated increase will receive a non consolidated, non pensionable payment to bring them to the equivalent value of 1%.
- NICS Management state that the current economic climate and constraints on public spending dictate these arrangements. The measures are stated to increase the NICS pay bill by 1.51%.
While NIPSA had the opportunity to meet with the Minister, this is the second year in succession that the pay arrangements have been imposed. The Civil Service Group Executive Committee will be considering this development at its meeting on 11 January. A further Bulletin will issue then.
Assistant General Secretary