There will be “minimal impact” on gardaí and teachers’ working weeks under a new plan to cut public servants’ hours being put to the Government.
The Irish Independent yesterday reported how more than 150,000 public sector workers are in line to work fewer hours from July this year, under a proposal that will cost €180m.
But now sources say the expert group recommendation to reverse extra unpaid hours introduced in the financial crash will not have a big impact on gardaí, teachers or hospital consultants.
This is sure to spark heated debate, because the reduction in hours has been seen by some as a way of appeasing the clamour for a ‘pandemic bonus’ in the public sector.
The independent body has now sent its recommendations, agreed unanimously, to Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath.
It is understood teachers work six extra hours of supervision and substitution a year since 2013 under the Haddington Road Agreement. Sources said the teacher unions made a submission to the body seeking the reversal of these extra hours.
Spokespeople for the ASTI and TUI said they would not comment until the report is finalised.
A previous departmental report said teachers were working two to 2.5 hours a week under the deal that was agreed in 2013.
However, numerous sources said this is incorrect and the deal increased their supervision and substitution hours by six hours, from 37 to 43 a year.
The paper by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in 2017 said gardaí were working three extra days a year under that agreement.
“Gardaí and teachers are not really affected by this report,” said a source. “The gardaí have been left to complete their own discussions. There is nothing in the conclusions and recommendations which will involve any material change to the current arrangements for teachers.”
It is understood that hospital consultants’ working hours are also unaffected and were part of talks on a public-only contract.
The independent body, chaired by former director general of the Workplace Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey, was set up to examine the additional hours under the current Building Momentum pay deal. According to the expenditure department’s report, the Haddington Road deal meant:
General secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers, Frank Jones, welcomed the proposals.
He said the measure would affect librarians, tutors and office staff more than lecturers, whose hours were not as “defined”.
Fórsa and the INMO have welcomed the proposals. The changes will apply to staff in the affected grades regardless of when they were recruited.
Staff who were hired after 2013 will have their contracts amended, while those hired before this will revert to their original hours. A minimum 35-hour week will apply across the public service.
Nurses and administrative staff would be the largest groups to benefit. The Department of Health did not respond to a request for a comment on the potential impact of the reversal.