New proposals for public sector reforms mooted as talks continue

Mon, Nov 30, 2009, 00:00

TRADE UNION leaders and Government officials were continuing talks late last night on proposals for reducing the public sector pay bill next year by introducing a new temporary unpaid leave arrangement for staff on the State payroll.

However, it is understood that some on the management side do not believe that such a system could generate the level of savings being sought for 2010.

As part of the talks, Government officials are also understood to have put forward new proposals for reforms in the public sector, including greater scope to redeploy staff right across the public sector, the introduction of one additional hour per week for teachers and a review of all existing third-party agreements between management and unions in the health sector.

Union sources also said that the Department of Justice wanted to introduce a core day of 8am–8pm for gardaí during which overtime payments would not apply.

Management in the health service are also seeking the introduction of an 8am–8pm core day for staff.

Union sources said that the Department of Justice also wanted to put in place new rostering arrangements to minimise the payment of overtime and premium rates at other times.

Informed sources said that public service management also wanted to remove the existing arrangement for staff in the Civil Service to be given time off to cash their pay cheques.

Union sources said last night that the question of how much the introduction of an unpaid leave arrangement would generate in savings, and also how it would work operationally in different parts of the public sector, were still being examined by the parties.

The Government is seeking to make savings of €1.3 billion on the public sector pay bill next year.

If the current talks are unsuccessful, civil and public servants around the country are set to stage a further 24-hour stoppage this coming Thursday.

Some sources said last night that some in public sector management would prefer the introduction of unpaid work to unpaid leave. However, union sources said that this issue had not been raised in the negotiations so far.