Unions warned over pay cuts deal
Published 21/05/2013 | 13:42
Public servants face compulsory redundancies unless they accept a new deal on cuts in pay and pensions, the Government has warned.
Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, asked that unions need to be given space to get members to accept the new package, that will result in some 300m euro in savings this year and a billion by 2015.
He appealed for public sector workers to back the agreement, struck following weeks of "difficult and long" discussions with industrial relations mediators who broke the deadlock between Government and trade unions which had previously rejected the Croke Park II deal.
"I hope if we get an agreement that we will be able to give the same guarantees we've given to workers in the public sector to date that there will be no compulsory redundancy," said Mr Howlin. "But that's contingent on people signing up to the deal."
Some of the measures in the revised package include nurses working longer hours, pay cuts of up to 8% for those earning more than 65,000 euro and teachers losing supervision and substitution payments.
More than 20 unions and organisations representing public servants, including frontline workers, now have to go back to members to reject or accept the draft proposals, with some expected to re-ballot workers.
Mr Howlin paid tribute to Kieran Mulvey and his team at the Labour Relations Commission for their stamina and skill during the lengthy talks, which ran overnight. The Government had warned an agreement must be struck on a possible renegotiation of the talks or legislation would be enacted to enforce measures. Mr Howlin said that legislation was approved by the Cabinet earlier on Tuesday and will be published on Thursday.
It is understood most unions were shown the act, which will pave the way for pay and pension cuts for high earners as well as other measures to enable the Government to achieve its savings if the proposals are rejected by workers.
Mr Howlin acknowledged that the country's 300,000 public servants had already contributed to Ireland's economic recovery and reduced their standards of living in recent years, but vowed it would be the Government's last ask. He said: "It is a building process to get to today. I'm glad that the structure is there. I'm not taking anything for granted with regard to the ballot that's still out there. But I'm asking public servants to walk with us on this final leg of the path. I think it's really important."
Siptu said its national executive council will convene on Thursday to consider proposals for health and nursing staff, who will keep Sunday double time payments. An intern scheme for health support staff will be established and a two-year graduate nurse programme will be introduced, it said. Measures in education include a reduction in the proposed increase in working hours for administration and library staff in the university sector from five hours to two hours and 15 minutes.