Tuesday 28 January 2020

Senior civil servants warn they won't implement policies

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Senior civil servants have warned they may not implement government policies if they are "targeted" for pay cuts.

It has raised severe questions over whether these senior civil servants –who the Government depends on to run the country – may engage in a 'go slow' or stop working extra hours without overtime.

The chairman of the Association of Higher Civil Public Servants (AHCPS) Tom Allen said the tradition of civil servants being non-political and impartial could not be taken for granted.

"Lay off the unfair targeting of our members, otherwise there will be consequences," he said.

Senior civil servants are generally earning over €65,000 and will be hit with pay cuts if the Government pushes ahead with legislation. They are the staff who the Government will depend on to implement such legislation.

But there is significant anger among members who say they are regularly working 12-hour and 14-hour days with no entitlement to overtime or time off in lieu.

Mr Allen's remarks have been seen as a warning to Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin that senior civil servants may not be willing to provide this level of co-operation if the threatened pay cuts are not reduced. This could slow down the operations of Government – and would represent a break with the civil service tradition to serve regardless of who is in power. But it is understood that many senior civil servants are reluctant to leave work once their shift is up because they are aware this would undermine the running of the country.

The AHCPS annual conference in the Conrad Hotel in Dublin was attended by senior civil servants from across Government – including those working for Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin's department. It is understood that senior civil servants in the Department of Finance were particularly vocal in their criticism of the pay cuts proposed.

It comes as Labour Relations Commission chief executive Kieran Mulvey is continuing his talks with public sector unions to see if a revised deal can be agreed following the rejection of the Croke Park II deal.

But Mr Howlin admitted it was not going to be easy to get agreement by Monday's deadline, given that so many unions had rejected the Croke Park II deal by a significant margin.

"So it's going to be very difficult to imagine that between now and next [Monday] that they're all going to suddenly buy into an overarching agreement. But one lives in hope," he said.

Irish Independent

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