Wednesday 22 November 2017

Coalition split over prospect of sacking state workers

Anne-Marie Walsh and Fionnan Sheahan

THE Coalition parties are on a collision course over the sacking of staff in the public sector who are underperforming or are surplus to requirements.

Significant differences emerged between Fine Gael and Labour on the issue last night.

Neither Government party was able to categorically rule out compulsory redundancies when the current Croke Park deal runs out in 18 months time.

Fine Gael Transport Minister Leo Varadkar had earlier said any future deal must allow compulsory lay offs.

The comments sparked outrage from trade unions and a rebuke from Labour's Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin. Mr Varadkar's remarks came a day after a new report revealed €1.5bn savings have been made under the Croke Park agreement.

Mr Howlin replied by saying that as long as Croke Park continued to deliver wage savings and reforms, there would be no pay cuts or compulsory redundancies.

A Government spokesman said Mr Varadkar was speaking in a "personal capacity" and was not expressing Coalition policy. However, the spokesman couldn't definitively rule in or rule out compulsory redundancies in any future agreement, beyond the Croke Park deal.

"I couldn't possibly answer that. There is a challenging reform agenda still to be undertaken," he said.

Fine Gael sources said Mr Varadkar would have some support among his colleagues.

But the Labour Party said that as far as they were concerned compulsory redundancies would not be forming part of the negotiations on any future public sector deal.

Speaking in Gdansk, Mr Varadkar said the issue of redundancies should be addressed in 'Croke Park II', as the current agreement was due to expire at the end of next year.

He said the Government would have to start "the conversation" on Croke Park II quite soon.

Senior public service union leaders reacted angrily to the comments. Public Service Executive Union general secretary Tom Geraghty described the claims as "mad''.

Lippy leo starts war

Irish Independent

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