independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Health staff are asked to bear brunt of cuts in Croke Park talks

HEALTH workers are being asked to deliver the lion's share of €1bn in savings being sought by the Government in the negotiations for a successor to the Croke Park deal.

Ministers have asked public servants to take cuts proportionate to what they cost the State over the next three years.

This means that health staff, who make up 40pc of the public sector pay bill, will be asked to make the largest contribution of at least €420m.

Education staff – who make up 35pc of the pay bill – are being asked to contribute €350m.

Civil servants, who make up 14pc of the pay costs, will be asked to make up at least €120m, with the bulk of the remainder coming from local authority workers, gardai and the Defence Forces.

The Government did not throw any new light on the cuts to be sought at a meeting with unions yesterday after it had given a broad outline of its proposals earlier this week.

Management revealed details of its annual pay bill, including:

• Education: overtime, supervision and substitution during school breaks costs €125m, while allowances cost €515m.

Substitution for maternity leave and illness costs €165m.

There are 91,100 people employed in the sector and the gross basic pay bill is €4.27bn.

• Health: €150m of the cut in the health service must be found this year, while the workforce must fall by 2,400.

Allowances cost €161m, overtime €257m, weekend and public holiday pay €242m, while call payments amount to €85m and night shifts €97m. Agency nursing costs €86m.

• Civil service, non-commercial state agencies and prison service: staff must contribute €120m over three years, with over €42m of the savings this year.

Allowances

The savings are on top of €3.3bn in savings already earmarked under the Croke Park deal by 2015.

The agreement protects public servants from further cuts to their pay or pensions and precludes job losses. However, the Government wants pay reductions "at certain levels".

It has also tabled proposals, including cuts to allowances, premium pay, and an increase in working hours.

The talks are due to finish at the end of next month. If a deal is struck, unions will ballot ahead of their conferences.

Irish Independent

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