Around 70,000 teachers could suffer significant financial penalties for rejecting the new public service pay agreement, under new legislation published by the Minister for Finance Public & Expenditure and Reform today.

The penalties include a nine-month delay in restoration of public servants' pay cuts, and an increment freeze until 2020.

In addition, they would not benefit from the discounted pension contribution replacing the pension levy imposed under austerity.

The Public Service Pay and Pensions Bill 2017 enables implementation of measures to restore recession-era pay cuts to the majority of public servants between 2018 and 2020.

Most would be in line for pay increases of between 6.2% and 7.4% over that period.

The agreement was accepted by a majority of public service unions affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

However, the three teacher unions - the ASTI, the INTO and the TUI - rejected the new agreement because of its failure to address the two-tier pay system introduced for newer recruits during the economic crisis.

Under the new legislation, unions who do not "subscribe" to the new agreement will suffer the penalties, though until it is published, it is unclear precisely what criteria would be required for dissenting union members to be penalised.

This evening, a senior public service union source said that as the Public Services Committee of Congress had already ratified the agreement, minority dissenting unions would be deemed to be covered by the benefits of the deal unless they actively did something contrary to it, like taking industrial action. 

The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland is already scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss whether to lift its suspension of industrial action, which closed schools this time last year.

A spokesperson said they could not comment on potential implications of the new legislation until they see the details when it is published.

Announcing the legislation, Minister Paschal Donohoe said it represents the statutory roadmap for the full and complete unwinding of financial emergency legislation, which had affected the pay of public servants, the pensions of retired government employees, and the fees paid to contractors working for the state.

He described the measures provided for under the legislation as appropriate, sustainable, and fair.

He noted that converting the Pension Related Deduction implemented during the crisis into a permanent Additional Superannuation Contribution for public servants would mean they would contribute an extra €550m towards their pension, on top of existing contributions of over €700m a year.

He also announced the Government will legislate to ensure the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Ministers of State, and the Attorney General do not benefit from the further unwinding of pay cuts provided for under the bill for other higher paid public servants in 2021-2022.

Members of the Government are foregoing any pay restoration whatsoever during the period of this Government.