Wednesday 21 February 2018

Accept change or lose €300m in pay, public sector warned

Brendan Howlin and
Michael Noonan appear
on the Pat Kenny show
yesterday. Photo: Tom Burke
Brendan Howlin and Michael Noonan appear on the Pat Kenny show yesterday. Photo: Tom Burke

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has warned for the first time that public-sector workers could lose €300m a year in pay increases if they do not move to fill gaps in frontline services.

It comes as 6,000 teachers, gardai and other workers are due to leave the public service next year -- making it crucial that other staff can be moved to replace them.

The number of retirements will speed up in the coming weeks as public servants depart to avoid pension cuts after February. This is expected to leave major gaps in services.

In addition, the axing of dozens of quangos will put an extra onus on the Government to move surplus staff.

Mr Noonan said that cutting increments -- the salary scale rises given to staff after they have served a certain number of years -- would be looked at again in next year's Budget if they did not co-operate with redeployment.

"If we're getting the full flexibility, then we won't have to go harder on these issues. But increments are obviously an option if we don't get flexibility," he warned.

Redeployment is already under way under the Croke Park deal, including the transfer of around 2,000 staff from FAS and the HSE to the Department of Social Protection.


Although many are now working for a new employer, few have had to change location. Far more are likely to be asked to do this in the coming months and under the terms of the Croke Park deal they will be obliged to transfer up to 45km from their current workplace.

It is also understood that more state employees will be asked to fill positions left vacant by higher grades of workers, without getting 'acting-up' allowances.

Staff to be redeployed may include surplus teachers moving to schools that have shortages and gardai moving from stations that have shut.

Increments are worth €300m per year to public-sector workers. This has led Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay to call for them to be cut to halt cuts in child-benefit payments.

However, Mr Noonan said the Government would keep its side of the Croke Park deal as long as public sector workers co-operate with redeployment and other reforms.

According to new figures supplied to Fine Gael Dublin North TD Alan Farrell, the Department of Education is paying €82.5m to teachers and its own staff in increments this year.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is paying increments worth almost €1,000 each to around 600 staff this year.

Irish Independent

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