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Public workers face new pay cuts warns Rabbitte

PUBLIC servants have been warned to prepare for more pay cuts unless they pro-actively work to cut costs.

Labour Party minister Pat Rabbitte has signalled that the Government is not opposed to slicing more off the basic pay packets of State employees if significant savings are not made under the Croke Park Agreement.

The deal struck by the previous government outlines plans for voluntary redundancies and more flexibility in the public sector -- but has been widely criticised for lack of progress.

Last night, the Communications Minister said the "country was broke" and nobody could be immune from future cuts.

"Frankly, the Government needs to see tangible progress. We want to avoid, if we can avoid, the question of going back to cut basic pay," said Mr Rabbitte.

"Public servants have taken two very serious reductions in their basic pay and we want to avoid that."

However, he added: "But if we're going to avoid that there has to be significant savings in the area of an end to demarcation, more flexibility, better ways of delivering quality public services by fewer people."

Speaking on RTE's The Week In Politics, Mr Rabbitte said progress must be made and that fewer workers would have to "pick up the slack" to help deliver a better service to the public.

A review of the Croke Park Agreement is due to be made next month.

The Cabinet is set to discuss a range of money-saving measures over the coming week with plans already afoot to abolish several quangos.

A major review of spending across all departments will take place under the stewardship of Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin.

Ministers are also set to examine the possibility of selling off some State assets such as Bord Gais and ESB.

Efforts to earn up to €2bn through the sale of "non-strategic" assets are likely to prove controversial at Cabinet.

Elsewhere, the trawl for cash will see yet another crackdown on social welfare fraud.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has promised that inspectors will follow the "tried-and-tested" methods of exposing cheats, including home visits.

Her department will review 780,000 claims and carry out spot checks.

Last year 254 people were prosecuted for social welfare fraud with 165 people fined and eight sent to jail.