Revealed: cosy holiday deal for Fas top brass
FAS, the State's training agency, is once again under fire as a cosy arrangement for senior staff has emerged, which entitles them to an additional 20 paid holidays in the two years before retirement.
Tanaiste Mary Coughlan only learned of the arrangement when contacted by the Sunday Independent last Friday, and has asked the new board to call an immediate end to the practice.
The revelation comes as last week's unemployment figures showed that in February the Live Register stood at a total of 436,956.
It has emerged that staff at the training agency, which has an annual budget of over €1bn, are entitled to an additional 20 to 22 days' paid leave, as a part of what is referred to as pre-retirement, when they reach the age of 63. Like all in the public sector, staff at Fas are obliged to retire at 65.
It is understood that the length of leave time staff are entitled to depends on grade seniority and the amount of time the staff member has spent with the agency.
Fas, which employs over 2,300 people, declined to comment on the story on Friday.
Fine Gael yesterday responded angrily to the revelation, saying that at a time of deep crisis, there was no place for cosy arrangements such as this.
Senator Paschal Donohoe, who uncovered the arrangement, said: "This is another example of the appalling way in which Fianna Fail have managed our semi-state bodies and our national finances.
"Instead of becoming aware of this problem and tackling waste and inefficient work practices, they have hurt the ordinary taxpayer who is again the loser, with these cosy arrangements alive and well."
Tanaiste Mary Coughlan said she only learned of the arrangement when it was brought to her attention by the Sunday Independent on Friday.
Speaking yesterday, she said: "I learned of this arrangement for the first time on Friday. In my view, provision for this extent of paid leave in preparation for retirement is neither justifiable nor acceptable. I have therefore written to the chairman of Fas requesting that the newly appointed board take the appropriate steps to regularise the position."
It is another blow for the beleaguered institution, which has been marred by scandal since the Sunday Independent first reported on the excesses of senior management in November 2008.
Last September, we revealed how former Fas director general Rody Molloy was given a €1.4m pension enhancement in order to facilitate his speedy departure.