Monday, 28 June 2021
Public Service Pay Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
The Leas-Chathaoirleach and the Senators have come all of this way so I believe I should say a quick few words. I thank all Members, both in the Dáil and in the Seanad, for helping this Bill to progress and to pass today. I particularly thank the Opposition for taking a co-operative approach.
This Bill does not affect the conduct of industrial relations, nor does it place any restriction on the industrial relations process. Careful note has been taken of the matters relating to public service pay. I am pleased that the very large majority of public service unions and representative associations are engaged with the new public service agreement, Building Momentum, which is the first forum for engagement on industrial relations matters. The agreement sets out a reform agenda and provides for pay increases, both of which will benefit workers across the public service. Our approach is about balancing the need for pay restraint and stability and certainty in the delivery of public services with the need to support ongoing public service reform. Key areas of our public services have experienced and responded to very challenging demands over the past year. The Bill allows for the implementation of reasonable pay increases and provides a means of using pay to support the wider public service reform agenda, where appropriate. It is on that basis that I commend it to the House.
I welcome the Minister of State and thank him for his engagement on this Bill over recent weeks. It is tremendously important. It is the end of an era with regard to the unwinding of the financial emergency measures in the public interest, FEMPI, enactments from a decade ago. That is an important juncture for public servants. As the Minister of State said, they have had a very difficult 12 months. There have been numerous challenges and perhaps there will be new methods of working in the future, including remote working, which shows potential and which may have positive impacts with regard to regional balance. Working from home may also help to reduce our carbon footprint and improve our quality of life. Many areas of importance to public servants may potentially be covered in this Bill. I again thank the Minister of State for his engagement and his positive stewardship of the Bill through the Houses.
I too welcome the Minister of State to the House. Along with my colleague, Senator Kyne, I welcome this legislation's passage through the House. It would be apt to pause for a moment to thank all of our public servants for the great service they have given the State down through the years and particularly during this pandemic. They went over and above the call of duty in many instances. There are many examples of that. We are now entering a period in which there will be new work practices, which are to be welcomed. These are family friendly and will assist in reducing our carbon footprint. These are all positive developments. It is important that our public servants are properly remunerated for the work they do. This Bill will help in that regard. It is also important that reforms are considered and adopted to improve work practices. I again thank the Minister of State for his presence. I am delighted this legislation has now been concluded.