Industrial peace is vital
Sir -- With reference to Maeve Sheehan, "Croke Park deal slow to deliver on public sector reform", (Sunday Independent, December 19, 2010), I want to challenge two claims made in this article.
Firstly, Ms Sheehan appears to think that having industrial peace in the public service at this time is not an important achievement. In fact it is vital, both to the prospects of the economic recovery of this State and to those who are vulnerable in an economic downturn, that our public servants are working properly, without ongoing industrial unrest. They are all doing more for less, with two substantial pay reductions and substantial numbers of their colleagues leaving. Despite that, public servants, the nurses, doctors, firefighters, road gritters, teachers, and civil servants, are all getting on with their jobs. That should be applauded, not denigrated.
Secondly, Ms Sheehan seems to think that little or no change is happening in the public service. That is patently not true. Indeed her own article cites examples of changes achieved in the six months the Agreement has been in force, some of which will deliver significant savings in public spending and have been sought for years by management without success. Despite claims to the contrary, radical change cannot be imposed on 300,000 workers all at once. But substantial changes to the way in which public services are designed and delivered can, will and must be delivered over the lifetime of the Agreement.