Over 500 state staff redeployed to deal with dole queues
OVER 500 civil servants have been moved into government departments struggling to cope with the record hike in unemployment.
A new website set up to highlight progress under the Croke Park deal reveals that extra manpower has been transferred from other departments to handle benefit and redundancy claims.
It said the civil servants were redeployed to the social welfare service and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation from other departments as the Live Register soared above 400,000.
Launched yesterday by the group overseeing the agreement, the National Implementation Body website highlights the main improvements to state services under the agreement.
The Croke Park deal, ratified in June last year, guarantees the state's €18bn payroll cannot be slashed by cutting public servants' pay, pensions and jobs before 2014.
In return, public servants cannot engage in industrial action, and must co-operate with a host of reforms.
The website was launched to monitor progress because the agreement has come under fire for the slow pace of reforms.
It claims productivity has increased across the public service and lists reforms.
However, it does not mention areas that have shown little progress including education, where second- and third-level teachers and lecturers have still not agreed to work extra hours.
"The public will also see a significant improvement in their dealings with the public service over the coming months and years," it promises.
It said public office hours will be extended and there will be more gardai available at night and at the weekends in future.
It said highlights to date in the health sector include the redeployment of HSE staff following 2,000 voluntary redundancies and early retirements.
The website also said medical laboratory staff, who process tests for patients, will work longer days and appointments to the highest posts in the civil service -- secretary general and assistant secretary -- will be filled by competitive interviews that are open to all.
It also noted reductions in the payroll are ongoing due to cuts in the number of public servants and cuts in their wages, introduced before the Croke Park deal.
It said the pension levy and pay cut saved €1.8bn from the paybill last year.
Under the bailout deal with the IMF and EU, there will be almost 25,000 fewer public servants by the end of 2014, compared to the peak at the end of 2008.
It will publish updates on progress under the deal, including cash savings, every three months.