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Sunday 25 February 2018

Staff who reject Croke Park II face new pay cuts

Frontline Alliance splits as 'divide and conquer' approach pays off

Public sector workers who reject the new Croke Park deal will not be protected by the terms of the agreement and face their core pay being hit again, the Government has warned.

While insisting it is not in the business of "threatening" anyone, the Government, which needs a majority of the Congress of Trade Unions to proceed with the €1bn pay savings deal, is adamant that there are clear ramifications for those who reject the deal.

This weekend, the Frontline Alliance of unions has all but fallen apart as the Government has done deals with fire- fighters and prison officers which will allow them retain their premium pay rates, twilight payments and allowances for the period of the new agreement.

While nurses, gardai and ambulance drivers – who all walked out on the crunch talks last weekend – remain opposed to the deal, there is a belief within Government that the divide and conquer approach will be sufficient.

"This is now an issue for the unions to decide. Anyone who works against it won't be protected either in terms of payments or core pay. The protections only stand if you do the business; if you don't do the business then they won't be protected," a senior government figure said.

"There are protections here, if you don't co-operate with the agreement those protections won't apply," another senior figure added.

However, senior government advisers are to benefit from a second incremental pay increase in April, which will boost their salaries by a couple of thousand euro, before their pay cut is introduced in July.

Each senior government minister has two advisers, one handling press and one looking after policy. As this Government was formed in March 2011, the new increments are due to kick in shortly, meaning the pay cut will be taken from their increased salary.

The standard pay cap for ministerial advisers is €92,000, but six ministers have breached it since taking office for their key personnel.

The Sunday Independent has also learned that a previous government promise that compulsory redundancies would feature was dropped at the last minute as a compromise to secure the final deal.

The Government has also conceded that it has failed to adequately tackle the issue of non-performing staff, which is "more acute" in the public sector than in the private sector, but said the new deal would allow them to tackle that issue.

"There has been a culture of putting people in a corner and forgetting about them, not dealing with it. It is a legacy issue, not just in the public sector. But it is more acute in large public sector organisations. There are some reforms we didn't adopt over the past 15 years," one figure said.

"It's a management problem... not a union problem – it's our problem. We need more leaders who are willing to push and not take any bullshit."

The Government has also said that it will seek further voluntary redundancies than previously stated in a bid to save a further €150m.

The Garda Representative Association confirmed yesterday that its members refused to volunteer to work at last night's Allianz National Football League game between Dublin and Mayo, as part of their protest about pay cuts.

The Garda Press Office later released a statement in which it said there would be sufficient numbers of gardai on duty in the Croke Park area, with 76 officers in the immediate vicinity and 11 inside the stadium.

Irish Independent

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