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Friday 2 December 2016

Teagasc forced to go the voluntary route

Declan O'Brien

Published 12/04/2011 | 05:00

Teagasc has admitted that it will not meet its staff reduction targets set out under the Croke Park agreement without the introduction of a voluntary early redundancy scheme.

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The agricultural research and advisory body is understood to have sought Department of Finance approval for a proposed redundancy package which would cost €3.3m.

The Teagasc staffing plan requires a reduction of 117 in the number employed by the agency by 2014. This will take overall employee levels to 1,056.

However, a spokesman for Teagasc admitted that getting staff reductions in the current economic climate was proving difficult.

Redundancy

"We will not hit the 1,056 target without some sort of voluntary redundancy package," he said.

The €3.3m would fund early redundancy packages for up to 50 staff members, the spokesman added. The deals would be based on the package offered to HSE staff.

Funding the scheme is now the issue. Given the current spending restrictions, it is unlikely to be paid for exclusively by the exchequer.

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Teagasc has proposed to the Department of Finance that proceeds from the sale of offices or lands by the agency could be used to finance the redundancies.

Meanwhile, a Teagasc briefing document on the implementation of the Croke Park agreement has taken issue with the perceived lack of delivery on the part of the public service.

While the document accepts that criticism may be justified in some areas of the civil and public service, it argues that its staff, "who have suffered significant pay reductions", were fully engaged with delivering on the Croke Park commitments.

Teagasc director Professor Gerry Boyle said that the State body has lost 300 staff over the past few years and could not replace them but that the remaining personnel had responded to the challenge.

"All the key metrics to measure staff output are increasing with advisers servicing increased numbers of farmers clients, college lecturers teaching more students to meet the growth in demand for agriculture and horticulture courses, and our researchers are producing ever increasing numbers of peer reviewed, high quality scientific papers," Prof Boyle said.

"This has only been achieved, thanks to the flexibility, adaptability and goodwill of our staff in embracing change."

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