Public servants face minimum 37-hour working week

Updated: Sunday, 24 Feb 2013 07:07

Public servants face working at least 37 hours a week under proposals issued by the Labour Relations Commission this evening.

Management has also proposed a three-year increment freeze, extending the redeployment radius to 80km and restricting flexitime and shorter working patterns.

Unions say that nothing has been agreed, with difficult issues including premium payments, outsourcing, and pay cuts for higher grades still to be addressed.

Included in the proposals are extra unpaid hours to be applied across the public sector.

The LRC proposes a minimum working week of 37 hours and a maximum of 39 hours.

All figures are net and exclude meal breaks.

Public servants that currently work 35 hours or less will move to 37 hours.

Employees working more than 35 hours will move to 39 hours with any employees that work 39 hours or more remaining at the same requirement.

If people work overtime, one hour per week will be unpaid.

Earlier, a three-year freeze on all increments for public servants at all grades was proposed.

A reduction in increments where staff are at the top of their salary scale was also suggested.

The Civil Public and Services Union has described Government demands at the Croke Park talks as unacceptable, saying there is little chance of agreement. .

The CPSU, which represents the lowest-paid civil servants, described the proposals as unacceptable, saying it saw little chance of an agreement.

Union sources stressed that the LRC proposals constitute a discussion document, and that nothing has been agreed.

The LRC document says management should bring forward proposals for people to opt to remain on their current hours with appropriate pay adjustments for a period.

The Government had originally sought that every public servant would work an additional five hours per week.

The LRC says the actual implementation of these proposals will require detailed consultation at workplace level in order to maximise the capacity to accommodate issues for affected individuals.

Other proposals include increasing the radius for redeployment of staff to 80km from the current 45km.

Access to flexi-time arrangements will be restricted for assistant principals and higher executive officers.

Flexi-time allows staff to build up an extra 18 days of leave each year by working outside standard office hours.

Staff on shorter or flexible working patterns will have to work at least 50% of standard hours.

It is understood there are currently around 50 different alternative work patterns.

That will be streamlined to around eight flexible patterns.

The talks have adjourned for the evening and will resume at 10am tomorrow.

It is expected that the talks could go on through the night tomorrow in a bid to reach a deal by Monday.

However, sources stressed that even if a document is hammered out by negotiators, there is no guarantee that the outcome will survive a ballot of union members.

Teachers' terms

The document says the proposed elimination of supervision and substitution payments will allow for additional arrangements for various absences.

It will provide a further two hours and 15 minutes per week in the context of these changes.

Third level education

The Commission is to engage over the next 24 hours with the parties in third level education to finalise an equivalent proposal for that sector.

The executive of the Irish Federation of University Teachers met this morning and instructed General Secretary Mike Jennings to convene an emergency meeting of the executive.

The meeting will take place if and when the Department of Education confirms the extent and amount of pay cuts being proposed.

Mr Jennings said the executive will then consider further participation by IFUT in the talks process.

IMO may abandon talks

The Irish Medical Organisation said it had not ruled out walking out of the talks if the outcome is unfair to its members.

Director of Industrial Relations Steve Tweed said the IMO had told the Government increasing the 39 hours gross per week that the majority of members worked was not acceptable.

He voiced concern that under Government proposals, some doctors would face multiple simultaneous hits in their earnings.

They would be affected by additional working hours, a freeze on increments, a pay cut for higher paid grades and reductions in premium payments.

He said that as things stood, it would be difficult to secure an agreement without movement from the Government, and said the issue of proportionality was crucial - both within sectors and across sectors.

Mr Tweed said the Government might be rowing back on its demand for five extra hours per week - but said that was only for some categories.

He said the IMO was not a member of the 24/7 Frontline Alliance but understood the sentiments behind it. He said most doctors had no choice but to work seven days a week.

Martin criticises cuts for young teachers and nurses

Elsewhere, Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has said that young nurses and teachers have been singled out to take salary cuts above and beyond anybody else.

He said this is creating a two-tier system in the workplace.

Mr Martin said that the big issue is that the cuts could undermine the professions and could reduce the capacity of the country to attract quality people into key professions.

Speaking in Sligo, Mr Martin said that in the context of the ongoing Croke Park talks, the opportunity should be used to rebalance what has occurred to date and to reduce the gap in what is now a two-tier system.