MORE than 70,000 frontline workers will sacrifice compensation worth thousands of euro for a cut to their Sunday premium pay if they fail to back the new Croke Park deal.
Although they face the same cut in their weekend payments as other workers, those who stay outside the deal will lose out on a big government payout.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform last night said those who are outside the deal, or oppose its implementation, "cannot expect to benefit from the commitments it gave as part of the agreement".
Sunday premium payments will drop from double time to time-and-three-quarters from July if the agreement is ratified by unions.
The Government has agreed staff rostered to work on Sundays will get compensation equal to their loss over a year, paid in two instalments in 2015.
A psychiatric nurse with seven years' experience would be entitled to a compensation payment of €1,620 a year -- but payouts rise for staff on higher pay.
The cut to premium pay is one of the big bones of contention for gardai, nurses, ambulance workers and other frontline staff, since talks on the deal began.
It sparked protests and threats of industrial action by 70,000 workers since the Government unveiled plans to reduce the payment from double time to time-and-a-half.
However, unions who stayed at the table managed to get a concession that means the payment will drop to time- and-three-quarters under a new deal.
The loss of compensation may prompt some staff to question their unions' strategy of opposing the deal, as they will suffer the cuts without compensation.
The Psychiatric Nurses' Association (PNA), which is opposing the proposed agreement, said it did not know whether its members would get compensation.
It calculated that a nurse with seven years' service, on a salary of €38,000 a year, would work 26 Sundays and four public holidays in a year.
Her annual premium pay is currently €5,820 but this would drop to €4,200 under the new regime, a loss of €1,620.
It is unclear if the Government will also compensate staff for the cut in the payment on public holidays, as the agreement only refers to Sunday payments.
PNA deputy general secretary Seamus Murphy said it could be seen as a form of blackmail if the compensation was withheld.
He said as far as he was concerned the existing Croke Park deal did not run out until June next year.
"I think there'll be issues about the compensation," he said. "It has been suggested that if we don't sign up to the deal, we won't get any of this and the cuts will be imposed.
He said the union was taking legal advice regarding whether the cuts could be introduced without legislation.
According to the proposed agreement, staff who work on Sundays "on an ongoing and permanent basis", will be compensated.
Those working overtime will not be compensated because, unlike working weekends, this is usually a worker's choice.
The compensation for the loss of the premium will be worth 12 months of the loss calculated from June this year.
Pay earned on Sundays worked in this period will be multiplied by the 0.25 reduction in the payment.
Staff will receive half the compensation on January 1 2015 and the other half on July 1 that year.
Members of the 24/7 Frontline Services Alliance will meet this afternoon to discuss its campaign against the cuts.
Meanwhile, the Socialist Party has claimed that the Dublin City Council branch of IMPACT has rejected the deal and revolted against general secretary Shay Cody.