Saturday 20 January 2018

Firemen, prison staff in talks to save premium pay

Anne-Marie Walsh, Ralph Riegel and Allison Bray

PRISON officers and firefighters have embarked on their own talks with the Government in a bid to protect their premium pay – despite the Croke Park II deal earlier this week.

Sources revealed that the Prison Officers Association (POA) and firefighter unions have been engaged in parallel discussions with the prison service and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The frontline workers have been opposing the new agreement because of planned cuts to premium pay and overtime, as members of the 70,000-strong 24/7 Frontline Services Alliance.

But sources said prison officers are on the brink of their own deal that means their Sunday premium pay would not be cut, and they would not lose twilight payments. However, they would have to work overtime at lower rates, while firefighters would have to work an extra hour of overtime for free each week.

It is understood that the POA did not attend yesterday's meeting of the alliance as its leaders were meeting to discuss the new proposals.

Meanwhile, other frontline workers, including gardai, have ruled out tough industrial action and a 'blue flu' protest over the Croke Park II agreement – for now.

Instead, they will stage an information campaign against the agreement.

The Frontline Alliance said it vehemently opposed the extension of the Croke Park agreement for public sector workers, which one union official described as "the most draconian deal I've ever seen".

"It sets us back 30 years," said Seamus Murphy, deputy general secretary for the Psychiatric Nurses Association.

The alliance also criticised the "disproportionate" pay cuts in the deal. Workers at the lower end of the wage scale face an 8pc reduction in their pay, while those earning €150,000 or more face a 7.2pc cut.

Irish Independent

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