Call for public service lay-offs

 

SAVINGS:ONE OF the Republic’s leading businessmen has called for up to 30,000 staff in the public service to be let go as part of a voluntary redundancy programme.

Speaking at a conference on the Croke Park agreement yesterday, William Slattery of the financial services company, State Street, said such a move would generate savings of €2 billion.

He said the public service workforce had increased by 50,000 or 17 per cent since 2001 and “a partial reversal” of this was necessary.

Mr Slattery, a member of the Government advisory committee on public service numbers and expenditure which was chaired by economist Colm McCarthy, told the conference that the Croke Park agreement had been “a positive step forward”.

But he said that savings generated under the reform measures set out in the deal should not be used to reverse pay cuts for staff but rather should go towards reducing the Government’s financial deficit. He also said a trade union veto on outsourcing could not be justified.

Mr Slattery said that further pay cuts for public service staff should only be made as a last resort. He also argued that pension arrangements in the public service, in which increases were linked to rises in earnings, were unaffordable and should be abolished.

He said it would cost about €1 million to buy a public service pension of €30,000 per year. He called for changes to entry-level rates for staff in the public service.

Shay Cody, general secretary of the largest public sector trade union, Impact, said the first point of resistance to the provision of reform in the public service was likely to come from public service management who would seek to preserve their existing resources.

He said there was a compelling need for public service management to “up its game” and standardise the best practice that had been achieved. “While I stated that the country was generally well served by the quality of public service management, this does not mean it was universally well served. There have been spectacular and well-publicised examples of failure.

“The ability of some of those who presided over catastrophic failure to sail off into the sunset with enhanced packages makes it more difficult to secure the essential buy-in from staff and middle management,” he said.

Speaking at a separate event yesterday, Minister for Health Mary Harney rejected a claim by Mr Cody that public sector workers had suffered most from Government cuts. “I know public sector workers are suffering, particularly those in lower grades who have taken a substantial reduction in their take-home pay. But in the private sector people have lost their jobs.”