Government push for new cost reduction, productivity talks with unionsTuesday 20 November 2012 22.16
The Government is to invite public service unions to discussions on further cost reduction and productivity to ensure it meets its deficit targets by 2015.
It is understood that Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has requested the Government to authorise the invitation.
A spokesperson indicated that it was hoped a new agreement could be finalised early in the new year - although the Croke Park Agreement would remain in place.
The new agreement would involve negotiating additional productivity and change for public servants next year.
These would be over and above the terms of Croke Park, which does not expire until the end of 2013.
The Public Service Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will meet tomorrow to discuss the Government invitation to talks.
Union sources stressed that while the Government might have an agenda, the unions would have an agenda too.
Responding to the news of the talks being sought by the Government, General Secretary of the Civil Public and Services Union Eoin Ronayne has expressed concern over whether lower paid workers, such as those represented by the CPSU, could achieve any further cost savings.
Mr Ronayne said that any moves would have to be predicated on evidence in December's Budget that the Government is willing to take on high earners.
Specifically Mr Ronayne said that the CPSU wants to see a third tax bracket introduced that would see those earning €100,000 and over paying 48%.
Mr Ronayne said that he will be attending a meeting of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Public Services Committee which will discuss the invitation tomorrow.
The Government spokesperson said they are seeking what was described as a “large sustainable additional fall” in the cost of public service delivery over the next three years in order to ensure that it meets its fiscal consolidation targets and reduces its deficit to below 3% by 2015.
As the gross public service pay and pensions bill accounts for 35% of overall spending this year, the Government believes that it should contribute around one third of the substantial expenditure consolidation required over the next three years.
However, to meet that target it thinks a new agreement covering an agenda for change and productivity is required.
Sources said the Government want to see an additional substantial reduction in the cost of public service delivery - including next year – through this process.
The spokesperson stressed the Croke Park agreement remains in force - but public service management have recently identified a number of challenging agendas that need to be progressed under that agreement.
However, the Government intends any new deal to build on the changes agreed and the industrial relations framework established under Croke Park.
The Government want these discussions to take place as quickly as possible. They will be led on the Government side by a small team of negotiators from Mr Howlin's department.