Public servants face new threat to their pay and jobs
Sources said union ballots for industrial action against HSE cutbacks in the West and teachers' opposition to reforms in the deal had caused annoyance.
Irritation also mounted this week when the heads of some departments and agencies missed a deadline to submit 'action plans' showing how they would implement the deal.
The threat of another onslaught on salaries came as a minister signalled for the first time that the Government would tear up the Croke Park deal. The agreement guarantees that state employees' wages will not be cut again, if there is progress on reform.
Junior Minister Conor Lenihan, brother of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, sounded a warning shot yesterday when he said the Croke Park agreement could be abandoned.
"If progress is not made soon, it will probably signal the end of the agreement and the partnership process as we know it," he said.
Economists last night doubted that the agreement would survive the cutbacks that are due to be outlined by Mr Lenihan.
Professor of Economics at University College Dublin, Karl Whelan, said he felt it would be "pretty hard to see the sums for the Budgets over the next couple of years coming together while honouring the deal".
Author of the Bord Snip report Colm McCarthy also warned that tough decisions lay ahead.
He said the tax base could be expanded by introducing water and residential property taxes, and capital projects such as Metro North could be deferred.
The UCD economist added that some of the Bord Snip recommendations could be re-examined. It recommended reducing public servant numbers by 17,300 -- although 11,000 have already left since last year -- as well as pension reforms for both public servants and pensioners.
The secretary of the ICTU's public services committee, Tom Geraghty, said the unions expected the Government to live up to its side of the Croke Park deal.