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Gardai won't agree on cuts to allowances

STATE workers are digging in their heels ahead of attempts by the Government to slash the public pay bill by an extra €1bn.

Senior gardai signalled today they would not countenance any cuts to allowances, which make up 25pc of their pay.

But Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin said some allowances are core pay, while others "clearly" are not and should not continue.

The Coalition is to enter talks with trade unions next week on getting more out of the Croke Park agreement.

Mr Howlin said he is "loosely" calling the process Croke Park extension and the Government is not invoking clause 128 of the current deal providing for the collapsing of the agreement.

The talks will be aimed at tackling the "unallocated further savings" that are in Croke Park, amounting to €1bn. Mr Howlin said there is a "very significant sum of money" which is included in the overall savings figure but is not allocated to any specific cut.

"The choices then facing Government are simple -- we either cut further frontline services or we look for further savings in the pay bill, which is 35pc of all public expenditure," he said.

He believes they can do it in a way that protects core pay and services.

But the difficulty of the task was made clear today when the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) drew no distinction between core pay and allowances.

"It's not a matter of core pay and other pay. Our pay is our pay," AGSI's John Redmond said.

While not a union, AGSI will be involved in the talks on the union side.