Wednesday 20 September 2017

Bruton vows to reduce workforce -- but stays silent on sackings

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

FINE GAEL enterprise spokesman Richard Bruton says he will get rid of thousands of public sector workers -- but is refusing to say if he will implement compulsory redundancies.

Mr Bruton will publish a new Fine Gael policy on restructuring the public service in the coming weeks but is shying away from driving through forced sackings.

While Fine Gael says it will get rid of more than 10,000 public sector workers, it is not releasing an exact figure until it says the frontbench has signed off on the plan.

So what exactly is the plan?

Mr Bruton says he will reorganise the backroom functions of the entire public sector, establishing one agency to deal with, for example, social welfare, education and agriculture grants and entitlements.

The new agency -- which will be a new government department with a full cabinet minister -- will control public spending.

It will also consolidate inspection of businesses -- such as health and safety and environmental health inspectors -- into one agency.

The as-yet unnamed agency will hive off the public service divisions from the Departments of Finance and Taoiseach.

Won't that lead to massive jobs cuts?

Yes, but Fine Gael won't say how many -- apart from that it will be at least 10,000. They will also not say if they will be voluntary, compulsory or a mix of both. The "vast majority" of people will be redeployed.

But the party says it will negotiate with unions "for re-training and exit packages" for employees who cannot be redeployed.

Does that mean compulsory redundancies? Doesn't the Croke Park agreement forbid that until 2014?

Mr Bruton will not say if he will drive through compulsory redundancies, even though "exit packages" certainly seems to hint at it.

But FG still says it will honour the Croke Park agreement, even though it explicitly ruled out compulsory redundancies.

Hmm. If the unions don't like it, will they just force their new plan through anyway?

Again, the party is refusing to say if it will push the plan through against union wishes.

"We are confident of broad political and social support for these proposals, including from trade unions," is as far as FG goes.

Irish Independent

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