Senior civil servants will resist moving from single offices to open-plan offices when government departments are relocated or reorganised, according to the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS).

At their annual conference, delegates overwhelmingly passed a motion pledging to ensure that any future changes to members' office accommodation did not result in them having less favourable terms and conditions "with particular reference to the need to ensure that those members who are currently in single occupancy offices continue to have such accommodation on the grounds of organisational efficiency and productivity".

Orla Corrigan of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport said that at present, principal officers and assistant principals had their own offices.

However, as a number of departments were moving buildings some would lose single offices and would either have to share offices or move to open-plan arrangements.

She said the purpose of the conference motion was to ensure that staff would retain their existing terms and conditions.

She said backing the motion would send a strong signal that they had the right to a decent office, and that there should not be a "race to the bottom".

Orla Ryan of the Department of Communications warned that open-plan offices could affect the ability of staff to do their jobs, given the calibre of some of their work which could require confidentiality.

AHCPS Assistant General Secretary Billy Thompson said the union was already engaging with management on the issue. 

The senior civil servants also called on the Government to address the dangers posed by terrorist attacks to public servants travelling abroad on official business.

The conference heard that the recent attacks in Brussels had raised fears for staff obliged to travel.

Delegates, representing 3,000 senior civil servants, passed an emergency motion directing the union's Executive to enter negotiations with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to address what they described as "the real concerns and dangers associated with the high risk faced by officers travelling abroad on official business in the light of recent terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere".

Brian Lucas of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht asked whether the motion meant they were seeking "danger money" or increased security measures.

However, Padraig Hennessy of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said that after the Brussels attacks, his branch members did not want to put "filthy lucre" into the motion, or to appear mean-spirited or money grabbing.

He said they wanted to enter into open negotiations with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on a broad range of issues.