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Pressing need to reform council chiefs' leave

The announcement by the County and City Managers' Association, which represents senior local government officials, that it would graciously support the introduction of a 32-day upper limit on its members' annual leave entitlements was long overdue.

However, people will wonder if the concession was prompted by the revelation in this newspaper earlier this week that several county managers are entitled to 40 days or more annual leave, with one individual on 43 days, rather than by any nod to altruism.

The jumbo annual leave entitlements of local authority bosses demonstrate yet again the urgent need for public service reform. When the 10 public holidays are added to the total, many city and country managers are out of the office for more than 50 days. That's the equivalent of two-and-a-half months every year.

While a 32-day upper leave limit is a considerable improvement on 43 days, it is still excessive compared with those in many private-sector jobs. By the time public holidays, privilege days etc are added, local government bosses will still be out of the office for between eight and nine weeks every year.

As the recent "privilege day" debacle demonstrates, most public-sector trade unions still haven't accepted the need for reform. With the state dependent on the IMF and the EU to pay their members' wages, it is high time they did. If they don't, the Government may have to take a firmer grip on the Croke Park deal.