Sunday 25 March 2018

Industrial action by public servants has 'limited' impact

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

THE campaign of industrial action by public servants over the €1bn Budget pay cut has had a "limited" impact.

Senior officials at state departments providing essential services said the national work-to-rule by up to 300,000 state employees has not been highly disruptive, although it has begun to inconvenience the public. The failure of the campaign to have much effect on government policy was demonstrated yesterday as the Taoiseach and Transport Minister Noel Dempsey refused to entertain unions' demands to reverse the pay cut.

Mr Dempsey said industrial action by public servants to get the pay cut withdrawn did not make "a whole lot of sense" as it was affecting the public who paid their wages.

And sources close to Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said he believes there "can be no winners in any further escalation of this dispute".

The source said the minister was well aware of the hardship caused by the pay cuts but changes to the paybill would "undermine increased international confidence" following the Budget.

However, there was some softening in the Taoiseach's position on savings in the next Budget, when he said there was "no desire" for further pay cuts and suggested a deal might be struck through talks.

Politicians held firm on their pay policy as unions threatened to step up the national campaign to reverse the pay cut that hit salaries between five and 15pc.

A national work-to-rule, lunchtime closure of public offices and phone bans have begun to affect the public accessing state services.

The Revenue Commissioners said their customers at public offices were hit for the first time this week when a work-to-rule began at the Central Revenue Information Office, off O'Connell Street in Dublin.

"Customers whose queries would have been dealt with at the counter had to wait while they were worked on internally, so things went slower," said a spokesperson.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs said customers "may have experienced difficulties" as some offices closed for lunch and phone bans were in operation.

The Department of Education and Science said the public and staff were affected when workers at offices in Athlone and Tullamore refused to answer phones, but the impact was "limited".

She said callers often rang staff in other sections, who were not participating in the action by members of the Civil, Public and Services Union.

Irish Independent

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