Government proposals face growing opposition

Tue, Feb 5, 2013, 00:00

The Government is facing growing opposition to its proposals to save €1 billion on the public service pay and pensions bill as part of an extension to the Croke Park agreement.

The organisation representing rank-and-file gardaí last night rejected proposals put forward by the Department of Justice for generating savings of €60 million by means of cuts in overtime, premium payments and weekend and holiday payments, including making Good Friday a standard working day.

Following a lengthy meeting yesterday the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said its central executive committee had rejected “all such proposals that include a cut in Garda wages, and will not participate in any process that proposes such cuts”.

Rejected call

Separately, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, which pulled out of the current talks on an extension to the Croke Park deal last week, rejected a call made by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to re-engage in the process.

Its general secretary John Redmond said if the Minister wanted his organisation to go back into talks he should withdraw his proposals for cuts and start from a clean sheet.

He described management proposals to save €60 million as disastrous. He described the proposals as “swathing cuts to pay and allowances”.

Meanwhile, the union representing nearly 40,000 nurses said it would take every step necessary to protect the income of members, whether it came in the form of basic pay, allowances or premium payments.

The executive council of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is to meet today to consider developments in the current talks. It said no specific proposals had yet been tabled by management on how to deliver proposed savings of more than €400 million on the pay bill in the health sector.

However, in a bulletin to members yesterday it said: “It can be expected that the intensity of this process, and the potential for serious developments, will increase, significantly, in the coming days, particularly if management continue to adopt their current approach of targeting premium pay and allowances for cuts.”

The country’s largest public service trade union, Impact, told members it would not accept any package of reforms that included a proposal put forward by management for staff to work five additional hours each week.

Additional hours

However, Impact indicated to members any extension to the Croke Park deal was going to have to involve some additional working hours for staff.

It said the union’s general secretary Shay Cody had told its executive committee he believed management would not agree to a package that did not include some element of increased working time.

“Therefore there was no prospect of agreeing an extension to the Croke Park agreement, or its protections on pay, compulsory redundancies and other issues, if unions refused to discuss any proposals on working time.”

Last night the GRA said it would examine any revised Government proposals that did not impact on pay or hours worked.

The GRA said Garda pay was protected under the current Croke Park agreement “and any attempt to renege on this will be challenged”.

GRA president John Parker did not comment on suggestions of industrial action, including a “blue flu”.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said the prospect of a “blue flu” by rank-and-file gardaí was “not on”.