Brendan Howlin seeks fair public sector savings deal

Tuesday 19 February 2013 20.05
Minister Brendan Howlin said that pay savings must be made
Minister Brendan Howlin said that pay savings must be made

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said that a deal must emerge on public sector savings that is fair for everyone.

Minister Howlin said his one objective is for an agreement to be reached that ensures everyone carries some of the burden.

He said pay savings must be made.

The Government has tabled proposals for reducing Sunday premium payments for frontline public servants.

The proposals were part of the latest round of negotiations on extending the Croke Park Agreement.

Last night, over 4,000 frontline workers attended a rally in Dublin pledging resistance to any cut in earnings.

Speaking ahead of a Cabinet meeting this morning, Mr Howlin said the deal "must be fair to everybody, that everybody carried some of the burden and that means a public service that is fit for the 21st Century".

He said there must be a "sustainable pay rate in the public service so that we can continue to provide teachers, nurses, guards, the whole range of frontline services that every citizen in this country depends on".

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said he can understand the anger that was expressed at last night's frontline meeting, but it is not the intention of the Government to unfairly target anyone.

He said savings of €1bn have to be found and the Government is trying to make progress on the issue.

Meanwhile, public service union IMPACT has told its members that claims that certain categories of public servants are being "singled out" for excessive cuts are wrong.

In a statement on its website, the union said that all groups across the public service are being expected to make savings of €1bn from the State payroll bill over the next three years.

The union acknowledges that management is seeking to cut €170m from Saturday, Sunday and evening pay.

Unions involved in the talks believe that could be reduced through negotiations.

It is believed over €350m is expected to be secured from a combination of pay cuts for higher paid public servants, as well as extended working hours across the public service.

The statement adds: "Virtually no 'uniformed' public servants will be affected by any adjustment in higher public service pay".

It also notes that if agreement is reached, cuts in education are likely to be similar to those in the health sector.

More additional working time is likely to be sought from clerical and administrative staff across the public service than from other Government employees.

IMPACT said it and other unions have insisted that any package that emerges must be "broadly equitable" - meaning those on higher incomes should contribute proportionately.

It notes that premium attendance payments make up a relatively large portion of the pay bill, which goes almost exclusively to a small number of staff groups.

It cited employees, including workers in local authorities, disability services and medical laboratories, have already seen big cuts in their overtime and premium payments under the existing Croke Park deal .

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