Howlin signals higher civil servant salaries not part of Croke Park talks

Fri, Nov 23, 2012, 00:00

Salaries of higher paid civil servants are unlikely to be on the agenda for new talks on the Croke Park agreement after comments from Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin yesterday.

Pressed on the issue of salaries of more than €100,000 to some senior civil servants, Mr Howlin repeatedly said he would “not be part of the destruction of public services”.

Mr Howlin was asked by Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald “for a yes or no answer” on whether higher public service salaries would be on the agenda as Government sought an additional €1 billion in savings from the public pay bill.

Mr Howlin said “the greatest cohort” of salaries of more than €100,000 was in the health service, and these were often necessary as Ireland was competing against places such as the US and Canada to attract consultants.

He told the Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform some €3.8 billion in gross savings achieved under the Croke Park agreement would not be enough to meet fiscal targets by 2015. He had secured permission from the Government on Tuesday to invite the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to talks on “an extension to Croke Park”. The “gap to be filled” over three years to 2015 was an additional €1 billion.

The “sort of engagement” he wanted to see was in relation to rates of pay for Saturday and Sunday working, as well as a standard rate of pay for hours between 8am and 8pm and possible alterations to working hours. Some people saw working longer hours as a pay cut in itself but he wanted as best he could to protect core pay.