'Fair deal' needed to save State €1bn
Any deal to generate savings of €1 billion on the State's pay and pensions bill will have to encompass all public servants, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has said.
It also said that all aspects of the pay and pensions bill would have to be considered.
In a statement last night it said the aim of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin had been to protect the "core pay" of low and middle-income earners.
"The goal is a balanced and fair agreement for all income groups across all sectors."
Trade unions and organisations representing more than 60,000 front-line public service staff have warned they will take whatever collective action is necessary to protect members' income from proposed Government cuts under an extended Croke Park agreement.
Leaders of the 24/7 alliance, which includes organisations representing general nurses and midwives, psychiatric nurses, gardaí and prison officers, said the measures proposed by the Government in the talks would disproportionately affect their members.
This was because they received a significant level of their earnings from allowances and premium payments for providing services around the clock. .
General secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Liam Doran said yesterday the alliance had reaffirmed its outright opposition to the approach being taken by the Government in the talks on extending the current agreement.
He said the proposed Government measures were "totally targeted at the 24/7 people".
"These people are going to carry an unfair burden of the cuts under the current Government strategy. That cannot happen, will not happen and we will take whatever collective action necessary to protect our members' incomes."
The union representing 3,000 prison officers said it would not remain in the talks if the process was only about attacking premium payments and terms and conditions.
General secretary of the Prison Officers Association (POA)John Clinton said his union was trying to ascertain whether the process was about the Government seeking to generate savings within the prison service or whether it represented an outright attack on existing terms and conditions of employment.
He said while the POA had no problem trying to reach a deal, "if it appears this is an outright attack on all our terms and conditions . . . obviously we will have to walk away".
Mr Clinton said, on the other hand, prison officers were to the forefront in generating savings under the original agreement and if the Government was serious about making savings it would not have a problem trying to negotiate a deal.
Separately, an organisation representing ambulance service personnel said it wanted to lay down a clear marker for Government that its members would not tolerate further cuts in pay, either directly or through reductions in allowances under any extension to the Croke Park agreement.