Wednesday 24 January 2018

State to cut 'bank days' off for civil servants

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

AN "outdated" practice allowing civil servants to get time off to cash cheques -- even though they are paid by electronic transfer -- will be abolished next year.

The Department of Finance told unions they will no longer get this 'bank time' from January 1, a month later than the deadline set under the Croke Park deal.

Clerical officers will lose half an hour a week and higher grades half an hour a fortnight.

But a major row erupted at a meeting yesterday over plans to axe two separate 'privilege days' given after bank holidays, because some grades may keep them while others will not.

The Department of Finance did not formally reveal its plans for privilege days yesterday, which it told unions it would table before Christmas.

However, there were heated exchanges between union leaders over the leaking of proposals.

Sources have revealed the department plans to allow lower-paid civil servants hang on to the two privilege days in the form of two extra annual days' leave.

However, mid-ranking civil servants and those in higher grades may lose some or all of their privilege days, because they get more annual leave than the clerical officers.

The Public Service Executive Union has reacted angrily to speculation that its members' privilege days face the axe.

It hit out at the media and the union for lower-paid civil servants -- the Civil, Public and Services Union (CPSU) -- for giving details of proposals before they were put on the table.

In a strongly worded circular to branch secretaries following yesterday's meeting, general secretary Tom Geraghty assured them no agreement had been reached.

He said he told the meeting that "if there was any proposal to interfere with privilege days affecting our members, we would not be agreeing to it".

He said the union would use the procedures to deal with disputes under the agreement by referring the row to a third party for binding adjudication if necessary.

Mr Geraghty condemned a circular from "another union" (the CPSU) that may have led members to believe the abolition was agreed.

Pandering

"That is not the case," he said. "The point was made also that, in the view of this union, any such proposal is without merit and amounts to nothing more than pandering to the worst media in the world."

Abolishing bank time was one of a number of reforms managers outlined in their action plan for reforms under the Croke Park deal.

In the civil service and non-commercial state agencies' action plan, it says the timeframe for eliminating bank time was from last month.

The entitlement was discontinued for new entrants to the public service in 2003.

The managers said they wanted to "eliminate outdated absence practices, including bank time".

Their deadline for changing attendance at holiday periods -- or Privilege Days -- is February next year.

Irish Independent

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