Ireland’s largest public service trade union Forsa has welcomed the government’s €1,000 tax-free award for workers who dealt with the Covid pandemic, in recognition of their hard work and sacrifices.
Ireland is also creating an additional annual public holiday and reducing working time for public service workers to pre-austerity levels. From 1 July 2022, full-time public servants will return to the 35-hour week that applied before 2013, when austerity measures were introduced in response to the 2008-09 economic and financial crisis.
Unions argued strongly for special acknowledgement of the courage of staff who toiled in very high-risk environments, when personal protective equipment (PPE) was inadequate and no vaccine was available. “It’s very welcome news that, following a one-off additional public holiday on 18 March 2022, we will see an additional public holiday introduced on a permanent basis,” said Fórsa General Secretary Kevin Callinan, who is also the president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU). “This recognises workers’ contribution and sacrifice over the last two years and brings Ireland closer to European norms in terms of the number of public holidays in place for workers.”