Firefighters, prison officers in deal over pay

Sat, Mar 2, 2013, 00:00

Firefighters and prison officers have concluded deals with the Government which will protect their premium payments.

However, groups such as gardaí, nurses and doctors continue to face cuts to Sunday premium rates and the abolition of “twilight” payments under the proposed new Croke Park agreement.

The Government also confirmed yesterday that public service staff who retired by August 2014 would have their pensions and retirement lump sums based on their current salaries and that they would not be affected by pay cuts under the proposed new agreement.

Separately in a U-turn the Department of Health signalled that highly paid contractors working in the health service would after all face cuts in pay in the event of the proposed new deal being ratified.

Firefighter deal

Details of the deal reached between the Government and firefighters emerged in a letter sent by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to trade unions.

The letter said: “In the context of the ongoing reform process in the full-time fire service, which will generate significant savings, the totality of the pay structure in respect of full-time firefighters will not be affected by the proposals in this agreement.

“However, this does not apply to the additional voluntary hours worked outside the rostered commitment. In such circumstances, the overtime rates that apply on a national basis in the sector will apply to full-time firefighters and the commitment in the agreement in respect of one unpaid overtime hour per week will also apply to full-time fire-fighters in respect of voluntary hours only.”

Later it emerged that the Prison Officers Association had reached a deal with prison service management which will allow its members to retain existing premium payments with savings being made elsewhere within the prison budget.

Separately the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said a new “grace period” would be introduced to allow those who retired by August 2014 to have their pensions and retirement lump sums based on their current salaries.

However, there will be reductions in pension payments for staff who retired before the end of February 2012, since then, and who will retire up until the end of August 2014.

Pensions cut

The department said staff who left before the end of February 2012 had had their pensions reduced by about 4 per cent as a result of the imposition of the public service pension reduction (PSPR). This PSPR is to be increased although the rate of the rise is not known. The department said this will see the pension payment fall by between 2 and 5 per cent. For staff who retired after March 1st and who are on pensions of more than €32,500 a new rate of PSPR will be applied.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health said a report in The Irish Times yesterday that it believed payments to contractors in its special delivery unit were exempt from new pay cuts was “factual”. However, it said the Minister had subsequently indicated that all workers in the health service “must share the burden”.