Irish Life: Unite members vote narrowly to accept proposals after restoration of link between pay, profits and inflation; some progress on Living Wage

unite-white-out-of-redUnite will continue fight for full collective bargaining and pursue interests of members

April 21st: Unite members have voted by 52.87% to 47.13%  to accept a set of proposals negotiated in the wake of a series of work stoppages last November on foot of an overwhelming mandate for industrial action.  The union represents nearly 1,200 Irish Life workers in Dublin and Dundalk.  The dispute centred on the company’s unilateral imposition of a new and inferior pay determination model without agreement, as well as their refusal to attend the Labour Court in respect of all workers.  The Labour Court appointed Dr Martin King to facilitate negotiations, which resulted in the proposals voted on.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Maeve Brehony said:

“Although the proposals issued by Dr King represent an improvement on the company’s original proposal, and in particular restore the crucial link between pay and profits, and pay and inflation, we are frustrated at Irish Life’s continuing refusal to negotiate collectively with off-scale workers in respect of pay.  Members are also disappointed that, despite some progress being made, the starting salary for contact centre workers in Dundalk will still fall short of the Living Wage.

“This frustration and disappointment is reflected in the fact that members only accepted the proposals by the narrowest of margins.  Unite is determined to continue pursuing the issue of collective representation for all our members, as well as other outstanding issues.

“Nevertheless, some improvements have been won which provide a basis going forward.

“Key elements of the proposals include the following:

  • Unite succeeded in ensuring that pay determination will not be imposed on foot of pay surveys, which would have broken the link between pay and profits, and pay and inflation.  The attempt to unilaterally impose a new and inferior pay model without our members’ agreement was at the heart of this dispute.


Instead, Unite will continue to negotiate pay ranges, which will include inflation and company profit components.


  • In respect of members in the Dundalk contact centre, many of whom have been earning below the Living Wage of €11.50 per hour, Unite has secured an increase in the starting salary (currently €20,000) to €21,000 in 2016 and a commitment to review going forward.


  • In respect of so-called off-scale workers, the employer still refuses to negotiate collectively with the workers in respect of pay.  However, we have obtained certain assurances in writing regarding collective negotiations in non-pay matters.  On foot of our members’ determination and the industrial action last November, the company has conceded minimum annual increases for the four years 2015 – 2018. Unite will fight to ensure all our members in Irish Life, and in particular our 600 ‘off scale’ members, will receive full collective bargaining rights.

“None of the gains made would have been achieved without collective action and the resolve demonstrated by our members standing shoulder-to-shoulder during a series of lunchtime stoppages last November. Although the proposals issued by Dr King provide a basis on which to continue improving our members’ terms and conditions going forward, they fall far short of our members’ demands, and that is reflected in the very narrow margin by which these proposals were accepted”, Ms Brehony concluded.




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