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Howlin targets €1bn cuts in overtime and benefits pay

PUBLIC sector overtime, allowances and premium pay will be slashed by €1bn, the Government has planned.

Overall spend in this area will be cut by 5pc next year and potentially a further 10pc in 2013.

Departments across the public sector have been asked to draw up plans to achieve savings.

Reports today suggest that lucrative overtime rates and benefits could be cut by almost 10pc next year.

However, the current rate paid in various allowances to individual staff, including doctors, nurses, teachers, gardai and other public service workers, will not be affected by the Cabinet's decision.

But this move could cause a massive clash between the Government and the trade unions.

Public sector unions are seeking full adherence to the pay guarantees of the Croke Park agreement.



Reforms

The Croke Park deal outlines that there will be no further pay cuts for staff in the public service in return for co-operation with reforms.

Unions have already argued that the definition of pay includes items such as the rates for overtime, allowances and premium payments.

It is understood that the exchequer allocation for each Government department will be reduced for next year to take account of the projected savings that will be made under the cuts to payments in allowances, premium rates and overtime.

An earlier government-commissioned report recommended a vast reform of the public sector.

The McCarthy (Bord Snip) report emphasised particular allowances that were paid to certain civil and public servants. The HSE pays out an estimated €600 to €700m in over time, premium rates and allowances, the report estimated. A total of 52pc of teachers received management allowances at a cost of €236m.

It also said that there was a "liberal system of allowances" paid to gardai on top of basic pay.

Radical

Just last week, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin unveiled a radical reform of the public sector and said that employee numbers would be reduced to 282,500 by 2015.

A total of 48 State agencies or quangos are to be rationalised by the end of next year and the controversial decentralisation programme was cancelled.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said in a statement that there was "scope" within the Croke Park agreement for ongoing reductions in the cost of delivering public services.

"A core priority is to continue to tackle and reduce the overtime bill across the public sector after significant savings have already been achieved through better management and work place changes," it said.


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