Teacher unions in €125m pay battle
TEACHER unions are battling to get government negotiators to drop plans to axe their €125m-a-year supervision and substitution pay at talks on a new Croke Park deal.
Sources revealed that the Government initially tabled plans to abolish the payments but unions are fighting for a compromise that will exempt lower-paid staff from any cuts.
Civil service unions also tried to get a concession on government plans to increase their working week by five hours, as they fear a major loss in overtime.
It is understood they are being asked to accept an extended working day from 8am to 8pm, over a six-day week.
Under flexitime, civil servants must be available to work from 8am to 7pm. The government wants to extend this to 8pm to cope with extra workloads.
The Civil, Public and Services Union also sought compensation after its members lost 'bank time' to cash cheques, although staff are paid by direct debit, under the Croke Park deal.
The Government wants to reduce the public service pay and pensions bill by another €1bn within three years, on top of €3.3bn savings being delivered under the Croke Park deal.
It has emerged that the bulk of the €1bn savings – over €350m – will come from staff working five extra hours a week and a cut in pay for high earners. Another €170m will come from cutting premium payments on Sunday and axing Saturday and twilight payments. It is estimated that up to €200m may come from voluntary redundancies.
One of the chief negotiating unions, IMPACT, has refused to negotiate a deal that will mean an extra five hours a week for all staff. Some savings would also be made from cuts in allowances, although this is also expected to be a relatively small part of the overall target.
The Government may have to 'buy out' the payments due to a recent Labour Court recommendation in relation to payments made to the chief executive officers of VECs.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Government may not impose a blanket pay cut if it does not get agreement.
This might have taken the shape of a 'one size fits all' measure like a previous pay cut in 2010 or the imposition of a pension levy the previous year.