Tuesday 24 October 2017

GOVERNMENT ADMITS THERE'S STILL 'DEAD WOOD', BUT SHIES AWAY FROM TRIMMING IT

DESPITE insisting the deal is "fair and balanced", it was conceded by senior management that those unions who stayed at the table did better than those who left.

The Government has sought to divide and conquer, especially in the so-called Frontline Alliance, by doing side deals with firefighters and prison officers without the knowledge of their garda, nurse or ambulance driver colleagues.

Firefighters and prison officers, because of their commitment to achieve the necessary savings on their own terms, have been allowed to retain their premium pay rates, twilight payments and allowances.

Senior government figures have also made it clear that those who reject the deal will not be protected by it, thus leaving their members open to the threat of having their core pay cut further. But, for those who remained, significant concessions have been secured.

The most significant is the dropping of the compulsory redundancy clause, which was in an earlier draft of the final agreement document.

Surrendering this, the Government severely weakens any chances of achieving the change in culture that is so desperately needed.

Senior government figures this weekend also admitted there is a "significant legacy issue" within the public service of "dead wood", but said it is "not in the business of firing people". Surely, having the option to make people redundant, albeit as a last resort, is a necessary stick to complement the plethora of carrots on offer.

Management thinks it is sufficient to have the redeployment option, followed by a voluntary redundancy mechanism if that person refuses to move.

The previous request to make people redeploy up to 80km from their current location was also dropped, with the distance remaining at 45km.

Another concession is that staff who see their Sunday premium pay cut are to be significantly compensated on a once-off basis for the loss of this permanent feature of their salary. Two compensation payments will be made in January and July 2015, equivalent to the amount lost in a full year, and it is likely to impact on the stated savings figure.

Significant pension concessions have been offered to public servants retiring in the next 18 months, who, if they leave before August 2014, will have their pensions and retirement lump sums based on their salaries before pay cuts under the new deal.

Contractors in James Reilly's inner cabal within the Department of Health, on his Special Delivery Unit, would be exempt from the pay cuts.

Irish Independent

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