Premium payments being targeted
Seamus Murphy of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, Liam Doran (centre) of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and John Clinton of the Prison Officers Association speaking at a meeting at the INMO headquarters in Dublin yesterday. photograph: cyril byrne
The Government is expected to insist that premium payments made to gardaí, nurses and other frontline public service staff must be included in a planned extension to the Croke Park agreement.
Organisations representing gardaí, nurses and prison officers said yesterday members faced losing 10 per cent of their income under proposals to cut premium payments as part a new Croke Park deal.
The organisations representing staff who provide services around the clock – the 24/7 alliance – said the Government plan to cut its pay bill by €1 billion was totally unacceptable and unrealistic.
However, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said last night the current process was difficult for all public servant and not just frontline staff.
“There is no doubt that the outcome will be difficult for all. However, an outcome that protects the premium payments of some and expects those who don’t earn these, in particular the lower and middle paid, to carry most of the burden would be unfair and unacceptable to the Government.”
Separately a senior Government figure said last night that at present €750 million was being paid out annually in premium payments and that “we can’t ring-fence €750 million”.
Organisations in the 24/7 alliance – the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), the Psychiatric Nurses Association, the Prison Officers Association, the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors – said they would not accept cuts in any form of members’ earnings as part of the new Croke Park process.
INMO general secretary Liam Doran said the alliance was calling on Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin to radically overhaul the Government’s proposals.
He said the five organisations would, within the constraints of how they operate, “come together and mobilise collectively and will protect the income of their members in every way possible and in every way open to us”.
Asked whether this could involve industrial action, he said: “Within the scope of what each organisation can do individually and by working collectively through whatever measures are necessary, we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect the income of members.”
John Clinton of the Prison Officers Association said: “We do not accept that Sunday is a normal working day.”
Doctors' warning: Process 'prejudiced'
The Irish Medical Organisation has warned of a possible legal challenge unless the Government agrees to suspend a process which is currently examining professional fees in the health sector.
The doctors’ trade union claimed the process under way under financial emergency legislation was “flawed and prejudiced”.
The union said statements made by Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin and Minister for Health James Reilly indicated the State had pre-determined there should be a reduction in the payments made to GPs before the completion of a consultation process as set out in legislation.
It said Mr Howlin had told the Dáil in his budget speech last December professional fees for health service providers such as GPs and community pharmacists would be cut.
The organisation has called on the Minister to say he would not make a decision on fees on foot of the current consultation process and to undertake a new one.