FG and unions row over public sector jobs
FINE Gael was last night engaged in a war of words with trade unions over its plans for public sector reform.
SIPTU said public workers were left "spooked" and "alarmed" by the party's failure to spell out exactly what would happen to their jobs, particularly in the Health Service Executive (HSE).
The row followed the party's announcement on Sunday that it plans to remove 30,000 workers from the public sector.
Confusion over the plan was heightened by a disastrous radio interview by leader Enda Kenny in which he was unable to state what would happen to thousands of backroom HSE staff under his "radical overhaul" of the sector.
Fine Gael enterprise spokesman Richard Bruton and health spokesman James Reilly went on the offensive yesterday to try and clear up the confusion. But their efforts failed to reassure unions.
"Health service workers are spooked by Mr Kenny's inability to explain where their future is in the reformed health service," SIPTU health services branch organiser Paul Bell said.
In an effort to clarify the party's position, Mr Reilly last night confirmed just one-third of the proposed 30,000 cuts to public sector numbers would come from within the HSE.