Pay-cut refund blow for public servants
PUBLIC servants have been dealt a blow after it emerged the pay-cut refunds they had hoped for next year may not be as big as expected.
A government minister insisted savings made by drastically reducing the size of its workforce would not be put into the fund to be distributed.
Labour Affairs Minister Dara Calleary said major reforms that slashed the size of the public service by 11,000 would not be factored into the calculations when the refunds were considered next spring.
These are the government ban on recruitment and an incentivised early retirement scheme that tempted thousands of public servants to depart.
Under the Croke Park deal, public servants may get back pay cuts that reduced the average salary by 14pc in annual pay reviews from next spring, if it can be shown that savings have been delivered by state employees under government reforms.
State employees earning less than €35,000 a year are getting first priority.
However, if the moratorium and incentivised schemes are left out of the equation during the pay review, only the reforms listed for each sector in the agreement will apply.
They include a plan to redeploy public servants across the public and civil service, longer working hours in the health sector, a review of the teaching contract and an extra hour's work a week by teachers.
"The moratorium and early retirement schemes were in place prior to the agreement. They were part of our response to the economic challenges we face," said the minister at a Public Affairs Ireland conference in Croke Park.
"It is certainly my contention that only savings that we get for the agreement are those to be considered for disbursement."
Despite the minister's comments, the leader of the largest public-sector union, Shay Cody, said there was no agreement between the Government and unions on what would be included in the pay-cut reversal fund.
"It's a matter for both sides to interpret the agreement," said Mr Cody, who is a member of the Implementation Body overseeing the deal. "It will have to be discussed by the body."
There was an expectation among some unions that the moratorium would be included in the refund calculations, especially as it was expected to yield the biggest savings of all recent reforms.
One union leader, who did not want to be named, last night said he wanted the moratorium to be included when the first pay review under the agreement takes place next spring.
Chairman of the Implementation Body, PJ Fitzpatrick, said it was "too early" to say whether public servants would get a sizeable chunk of the pay cuts, worth over €2bn, back.
The reforms will begin at the end of the month.