Union support for outsourcing 'key to saving Croke Park deal'
THE Government warned public sector unions yesterday that they would have to support the transfer of work to the private sector to keep the Croke Park deal on track.
It came as Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore moved to reassure unions that the Government was still committed to the Croke Park deal, which protects the pay of workers until 2014 in return for reforms.
There had been some concern among unions after Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte warned that the deal might have to be renegotiated. But union sources dismissed it as a bit of a "storm in a tea cup".
Junior Minister for Public Service Reform Brian Hayes said that while the tone of comments from ministers was one thing, there was still a "consistent approach" in Government to the Croke Park deal.
"We've got to get the reforms up and running. And if that's not happening, then everything is back on the table again," he said.
The decision of some councils to use private companies to carry out bin collections instead of their own workers has caused concern among unions -- but the Croke Park deal does allow for "non-critical" work in the public sector to be outsourced.
Public sector managers have to provide a business case to show that it will save money and deliver a good quality service.
Mr Hayes said he believed that unions understood the need to implement reforms quickly this year. "I think, in the great majority of examples, they understand the world has changed and that what's needed is a new attitude. That attitude will determine whether people's salary, pay and conditions are back on the table next year," he said.
Yesterday, Tanaiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore vowed that the Government would stick by the Croke Park deal. "The Government is committed to working the Croke Park agreement and to honouring the terms of the Croke Park agreement," he said.
SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor said yesterday there was a procedure in the agreement that governed outsourcing -- and said it would be complied with.
The Government is appointing a new person to increase the level of outsourcing, as well as asking all public bodies to come up with suggestions as part of its public sector reform plan.