Sunday 18 March 2018

Howlin under pressure to make Fas scrap leave perk

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

PRESSURE is mounting on the Public Sector Reform Minister Brendan Howlin to force FAS to scrap a generous pre-retirement leave perk.

Fianna Fail public expenditure and public sector reform spokesman Sean Fleming said Mr Howlin should ask the failed training agency's board to immediately abolish the work practice.

A total of 105 staff are currently getting the leave of up to 44 days a year, depending on their years of service, to prepare for retirement, on top of their annual leave of roughly 26 days.

This means they can claim a total of 70 days off each year for the two years before they depart.

Mr Fleming admitted his party bore some responsibility for such work practices, as well as other parties that held power when they were "built up".

He was speaking as the training agency and SIPTU prepare to attend a hearing at the Labour Court to resolve the dispute.

FAS wants to abolish the practice and has offered once-off compensation of one day a year per worker for the next three years, but the union has rejected the offer.

Mr Fleming urged the minister to intervene to ensure the work practice was abolished as soon as possible.

"This practice should not only be stopped, no new entrants should be allowed," he said.

"We can't afford to borrow money from the IMF to pay for this any longer.

"There may be a Labour Court hearing but they could act unilaterally. The Government can't be serious about cutting fuel allowances next month and at the same time saying we're paying very senior people to take up to 70 days off.

"The minister should make the Government's position very clear to the chief executive and put him in the hot seat."

Both Mr Howlin and Education Minister Ruairi Quinn were unavailable to comment yesterday on the deepening dispute at the training agency -- revealed this week by the Irish Independent.

The Department of Education and Skills said it had "noted" the board and management of FAS had moved to discontinue the practice of pre-retirement leave at the agency.

"As this matter is now before the Labour Court, the department is constrained from making any further comment," a spokesperson said.

Irish Independent

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