Coalition rethink on extra hours
The Government has signalled it is prepared to scale back its original proposal that public service staff work an additional five hours a week as part of an extension to the Croke Park agreement.
Intensive talks on changes to the pay and conditions of about 300,000 staff across the public service will continue today.
However, Government representatives have argued that there were parts of the public service where staff worked as few as 32 hours per week, and in such cases there would have to be a significant increase in the working week.
Sources said no new specific proposals were put forward for additional hours at talks yesterday.
The country’s largest union, Siptu, said yesterday it would not accept increased hours for staff already working 39 hours.
Government representatives and unions also held talks on a proposed pay cut for higher earners, but no specific proposals were tabled on a threshold. This is expected to be about €60,000-€70,000. The Government is also understood to have proposed that overtime only be paid at a flat rate rather than at time-and-quarter, time-and-a half or double-time.
Review of pay
Meanwhile, as the talks on the pay cuts continued, The Irish Times has learned the Department of Health is to seek a review of the pay for the head of the Health Service Executive, Tony O’Brien.
The department said a review of the salary of the new HSE director general would be made after health governance legislation was passed. It said this review would be subject to any agreements made at the current pay talks. Mr O’Brien earns €195,000 per year.
Highly placed sources said it was expected the Department of Health would seek an increase in salary as part of this review. Any salary increase would require the approval of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Separately, official documents show the department wanted permission to be able to offer bonus payments to chief executives of new hospital groups, which are expected to be announced by the Government next week.
The secretary general of the department, Ambrose McLoughlin, told the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform: “I would be keen to explore with you the feasibility of offering a more flexible package in order to attract the right candidate, eg a base salary but with higher on-target earnings associated directly with improved performance in finance and/or operations.”
The Department of Public Expenditure opposed the proposal.
Separately, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter launched a strongly worded attack on the leadership of the Garda Representative Association.
He suggesting it was leading industrial action, which is an offence before the law for any Garda member.