Tuesday 21 November 2017

Howlin's aide issues fresh warning to public servants ahead of pay talks

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin
Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

One of the Government's most influential civil servants has issued a fresh warning to public sector workers that they must be prepared to do more in return for pay increases.

Robert Watt, secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, said increased productivity and efficiency in the public sector is a key Government demand ahead of the upcoming pay talks.

Mr Watt, who is a close adviser to Minister Brendan Howlin, warned trade unions that workers "can't get everything they want".

And he said the Government is keen to achieve a "speedy" agreement with unions - in a clear desire for the talks to conclude ahead of October's Budget.

Several trade unions have already warned they will oppose demands by the Government for increased productivity from workers.

But speaking yesterday, Mr Watt said the issue will be firmly on the agenda. "Every organisation, public, private, every organisation, has to keep on changing ... has to keep on delivering more for customers and citizens. The public sector is no different. We have to do more. We have to improve services and that's an ongoing process," Mr Watt said.

"The challenges are enormous and the response has to be improved productivity."

Mr Watt issued the warning following the publication of a new survey on public attitudes towards the civil service.

The survey showed that one in five people did not perceive the Civil Service as trustworthy in a finding Mr Watt admitted was concerning.

He also voiced his concern about the median age of civil servants, which is 47 or 48.

He said efforts are being made to attract more graduates to a career in the civil service.

Irish Independent

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