Government to specify plans to cut nurses' pay

Fri, Feb 15, 2013, 00:00

The Government is expected today to set out specific proposals to cut premium payments to nurses and other healthcare workers and introduce a longer working week as part of an extension to the Croke Park agreement.

Proposals to reduce the rate paid for Sunday working and to scale back other premium payments for working on Saturdays and in the evenings will more than likely place the Government on a collision course with nursing unions which have indicated that they will strongly oppose any such moves.

Government sources indicated last night that as part of an intensification of the current talks on an extension to the Croke Park deal, management representatives would begin setting out specific proposals for cuts in the different sectors of the public service today, commencing with the health service.

It is understood that the Government representatives have signalled that they want the health service talks to run over the weekend.

Over the weekend

However, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation last night said that while it would attend a meeting with management today it would not be available over the weekend. It said it would be able to reconvene on Tuesday.

Government representatives are also expected to set out proposals for reducing its pay bill in the education sector today, and this process is also scheduled to run over the weekend.

The proposals are understood to involve significant savings on the €127 million which is paid out annually in supervision and substitution payments to teachers.

There are also likely to be proposals for longer working hours ,while some higher earners will face proposals for a reduction in current earnings – either through a “step backwards” on their existing incremental scale or a straightforward pay cut.

Government sources indicated that under the proposals staff could face a combination of, for example, longer hours and cuts to payments.

Equity of measures

However, sources said attempts would be made to test the equity of measures proposed so that they were not excessively onerous on any individual or group.

Government proposals for the prison service are also expected to be set out today, with those for the Civil Service, State agencies, local authorities and the defence forces scheduled to be tabled on Monday.

Retired figures, including former politicians and public servants on large pensions, are also expected to face cuts in any overall package.

The Government is seeking savings of €1 billion on its pay and pensions bill over the coming three years.