Unions rule out battle on overtime cutbacks
PUBLIC sector unions have ruled out a major battle over proposed cuts in overtime because the rates being paid will stay the same.
The Government is asking public service managers to offer fewer extra hours to staff, which are paid at a premium rate.
Reductions in the amount of overtime available to public servants are already being made across the public sector.
But the Government is now planning further cuts by limiting the amount of funding to departments for extra hours.
However, senior government sources revealed last night that overtime rates and allowances paid to staff would not be touched.
The measures will not breach the Croke Park deal, which protects pay rates, so are unlikely to lead to industrial action.
The Croke Park agreement allows for the standard working day in the health service to change from 9am to 5pm, to 8am to 8pm.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said public sector workers would have to take cuts in their €1bn overtime and allowances.
"I don't think there's any secret about the Government's objectives to get down the pay bill," he said.
"One of the ways that can be done is by individual departments and individual state agencies looking at the potential for payroll savings and allowances and overtime payments."
Chairman of the 24/7 Frontline Alliance, Des Kavanagh, said he did not believe the proposals would spark industrial unrest.
The alliance is made up of six unions representing gardai, nurses, fire fighters, prison officers and ambulance personnel.
"I can't see a battle unless they cut the rates," said Mr Kavanagh.
"The battle to protect premium pay was won when the Croke Park deal was agreed."