Sunday 24 March 2019

Croke Park II: Staff can now be 'pushed out' if not needed

Fionnan Sheahan and Anne-Marie Walsh

PUBLIC sector workers will be pushed out of their job if their role is no longer needed, under the terms of the new Croke Park deal.

But the Government claims that this is not the same as making compulsory redundancies.

The Government also has a clause in the new agreement that it can go back for more cuts from the wage bill if the economy deteriorates further.

But workers who lose out on Sunday premium pay will get compensation in 18 months' time.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that former Taoisigh Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern are facing cuts of approximately €7,500 to their pensions of around €150,000.

Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin has called on public sector workers to "swallow hard" and vote for the new deal. He promised that the Government would "not be coming back for more" if this agreement was to go through.

However, there is a clause in the deal which says that there can be a review if "the commitments or assumptions reaffirmed under this Agreement must be revisited".

Mr Howlin joined union leaders in dismissing reports that compulsory redundancies were part of the deal. But the section of the deal called "exit mechanisms" effectively does provide the Government with the ability to force a worker to take voluntary redundancy if their position is deemed surplus to requirements.

The document also says there are "exceptions" to the commitment that compulsory redundancy will not apply.

Redundancy

It states: "The commitment on compulsory redundancy continues to be subject to the agreed flexibility in deployment being delivered.

"Where deployment is not an option and taking account of the business needs of the organisation, there may be circumstances where voluntary departure would be appropriate."

Marking an end to jobs for life in the public service, these redundancies will mainly be used in cases where the position is gone because the office has been shut down.

The document reaffirms that management can dismiss underperforming workers.

It also allows for the Government to go beyond the existing plans for reductions in numbers in the public sector.

Under the agreement, existing pension holders will take a hit. In line with the reductions in pay at the higher level above €65,000, pensions above €32,500 will also be reduced by between 2pc and 5pc.

The reduction on pensions above €100,000 will rise to 5pc, so there will be a reduction for retired senior politicians.

Among the measures in the overall deal are:

• Public servants on a working week of 35 hours or less will work at least 37 hours.

• Those working between 35 and under 39 hours will have to put in at least 39 hours

• Anyone already on a 39-hour week or more will do one hour's unpaid overtime every week.

• Teachers' supervision and substitution payments to be eliminated.

• Reduced overtime rates, down to time and half for those on less than €35,000; time and a quarter for those earning more than €35,000.

• So-called 'twilight' payments will be abolished;

• High earners will have their salaries and allowances cut by 5.5pc for those between €65,000 and €80,000; with an extra 8pc off earnings between €80,000 and €150,000; another 9pc off pay between €150,000 and €185,000; and 10pc shaved off any earnings above €185,000.

Irish Independent

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