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Thursday 21 September 2017

88 public service allowances face chop

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

PUBLIC servants face losing up to 88 allowances in three months' time.

The Government has set a June deadline for talks with staff, with "prompt arbitration" if there is no agreement.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's Business Plan 2013 aims also to cut travel expenses, including mileage and subsistence arr-angements just ahead of its target date to roll out the new Croke Park deal from July.

The country's 290,000 public servants are currently voting on whether to accept the allowances and expenses reviews, which will also prepare legislation to change the Oireachtas allowances regime, including the party leaders' allowance.

Its plan sets deadlines to review "certain common civil service allowances" by the end of this month, and "pay structures" in the defence, garda and education sectors next year.

Isolate

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin promised €75m in savings by cutting or abolishing allowances last year, but could only deliver €3.5m of the total €1.5bn bill.

Letters have since been sent to departments asking them to prepare to cut 88 allowances.

In education, they include an allowance for principals who act as secretaries to boards of management.

A Gaeltacht allowance in health is set for the axe.

Gardai face losing a bicycle and Aran Islands allowance.

A plain clothes allowance and tuck shop allowance for prison officers face abolition.

An underwear and night attire allowance for the defence forces is also under threat.

Meanwhile, members of the country's biggest union have accused its leaders of "ignoring what they claim to stand for" by backing Croke Park II.

The Central Statistics Office branch of IMPACT has criticised the union's recommendation of a Yes vote, claiming it "unfairly targets" higher paid and shift workers.

In a letter to general secretary Shay Cody, branch chairman Kieran Culhane said members opposed the endorsement of the deal, which they claimed would open the door for management to "isolate other groups and further erode public sector solidarity in future agreements".

In a reply, Mr Cody said the choice was not between the deal and the status quo, but the deal and "something far less certain, and almost certainly worse".

Irish Independent

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