The proposed public service agreement 'Building Momentum' is now certain to be ratified tomorrow after the largest public service union Fórsa voted to back it by a margin of almost 96%. 

The turnout was just over 58%. 

Today's vote means that the four largest unions - Fórsa, SIPTU, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and the Irish National Teachers Organisation - have all backed the two-year agreement.

This means a majority in favour is guaranteed in tomorrow's aggregate vote by the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. 

The ratification will come as a relief to the Government, as it should deliver certainty in pay and industrial relations for the next two years as it combats the consequences of Covid-19 and Brexit. 

Fórsa General Secretary Kevin Callinan said the agreement, which includes improvements in pay and conditions for around 350,000 Government employees, would underpin stability in the delivery of public services over the two-year duration of the agreement, which expires at the end of 2022.

"I believe Fórsa members have given their strong endorsement to this agreement because its pay provisions are substantially weighted towards workers on lower incomes, and because it includes a mechanism to address the additional working hours introduced for lower-paid public servants during the last financial crisis," he said.

"This is long overdue, not least because restoration has already been achieved for higher-paid staff who experienced temporary pay cuts as an alternative to added hours."

Mr Callinan, who also chairs the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said Fórsa would now work to ensure that the agreement was fully implemented, and that it delivered for those who use and provide public services. 

He anticipated that negotiations on a successor to 'Building Momentum', which with a two-year duration is shorter than the usual such agreements, will commence in the middle of next year.

Only three ICTU-affiliated unions have rejected the proposed agreement. 

The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland voted down the deal on the basis that it does not adequately address the two-tier pay structure for so called "new entrants" recruited since 2011. 

Meanwhile, the Irish Medical Organisation voiced frustration that the agreement did not address long-standing grievances of doctors, including a regrading claim for public health doctors, a two tier pay system for hospital consultants, working hours of Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors, 

The Medical Laboratory Scientists Association, which represents around 1,800 scientists, whose duties include Covid-19 testing rejected it as it failed to address a long-standing claim for pay equality with biochemists who they argue do equal work. 

The Teachers Union of Ireland has not yet carried out a ballot on the 'Building Momentum' proposals. 

Certain unions and associations, which are not affiliated to Congress and who negotiated through a separate strand, have not yet balloted as they are seeking clarifications.

They include representatives for An Garda Síochána grades, the Defence Forces enlisted and officer grades, and the Psychiatric Nurses Association. 

'Building Momentum' provides for a 1% pay rise in October 2021, a further 1% in October 2022, and a further increase of up to 1% via a new sectoral bargaining process. 

It also provides for restoration of austerity cuts to overtime and other allowances, and the commencement of a process to restore additional unpaid hours imposed during the global financial crisis.