Tuesday 22 January 2019

Civil servants demand shorter working week

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Anne Marie Walsh

Civil servants will today demand a shorter working week having largely won a battle to get their pay cuts reversed.

They are set to focus on returning to a six-hour and 57-minute working day after the Government agreed to almost fully unwind the emergency legislation that cut their pay.

Motions to be tabled at a union conference also include demands for the reversal of other cuts, including reductions in overtime and sick leave suffered during the economic crisis.

Public servants are required to work an extra two hours 15 minutes a week, or 27 minutes a day, under a previous pay deal. They can opt out of the arrangement but must take a pay cut to reflect their reduction in hours.

The extra hours meant most civil servants' working weeks increased from 34 hours and 45 minutes to 37 hours.

This means they work seven-and-a-half hours most days, and seven hours on Fridays.

They work from 9am to 5.45pm Monday to Thursday and from 9am to 5.15pm on Friday, with a lunch break of one hour and 15 minutes.

A survey by recruitment agency Morgan McKinley of private sector workers in professions including accounting, IT and office support, found that almost 60pc of workers have contracted working hours between 38 and 42 hours a week. Almost 8pc worked 43 hours or more.

A Department of the Taoiseach and Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht motion notes that the Government refused to restore the working hours for civil servants during the last pay talks. It instructs the union's civil service executive to make clear in future talks "that the priority for civil servants in the next restoration talks is the restoration of hours".

Minister Paschal Donohoe has taken a hardline on reversing the hours. Ahead of talks on the current pay deal, he said they would not be restored and it would cost in the region of €600m to do so.

He said 12,000 workers would have to be hired to maintain frontline services if the hours were axed.

Previously, members of the Civil Public and Services Union, now part of Fórsa, threatened to ballot on strike action if the Government refused to roll back the hours, but later supported the current pay deal.

Other motions to be tabled at the Fórsa civil service division conference in Killarney include staff at Revenue looking for backing for an increase in their allowances in line with pay rises of around 7pc due under the current pay deal.

There will also be numerous demands for a reversal of cuts to new entrants' pay, which Mr Donohoe has said would cost over €200m.

Irish Independent

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