State seeks €420m in health savings
The Government is seeking to generate savings of €420 million in the health service over the coming three years. Trade unions were told this morning that the savings for this year alone would be €150 million.
The figures were given to union leaders attending the latest round of talks on an extension to the Croke Park agreement.
The €420 million represented the share the health service will have to contribute, under Government plans, towards reducing the State’s pay and pensions bill by €1 billion by 2015.
Unions were also told there will be a net reduction of 2,400 in posts in the health service in 2013.
The Government is also seeking to introduce cuts of €120 million in the cost of running the Civil Service and non-commercial State agencies over the next three years, it emerged.
The general secretary of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants Dave Thomas said management indicated it wanted to save €43 million in the Civil Service and €120 million by 2015. He said no details had been provided on how this would be achieved.
Trade unions are due to meet this afternoon to consider whether to continue with talks with the Government aimed at securing an extension to the Croke Park agreement.
The meeting will follow presentations by public service management on proposals this morning for reforms in the different parts of the public service, including Civil Service, health, local authorities, education, Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces.
Unions are hoping management will elaborate on the radical proposals outlined in its opening statement on Monday.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said this week it was expected these presentations would clarify “whether the management agenda is, in any way, compatible with the public service unions’ position with regard to the protections (pay/compulsory redundancies) given under the Croke Park agreement”.
Siptu has warned there would be no new agreement if the Government insisted it contained provision for compulsory redundancies.
Some unions representing staff who provide services on a round-the-clock basis similarly consider proposed cuts to premium pay rates to be a red-line issue.
Siptu vice-president Patricia King said opposition to compulsory redundancies was a “fundamental" trade union position. “There will be no agreement with that in it.”
Management has not specifically referred to compulsory redundancies. However, it signalled that staff who did not accept suitable offers of redeployment could face an exit mechanism.
Among the proposals set out by management were pay cuts for some grades, increased working hours, the elimination of increments, a reduction in premium and overtime rates, and reforms to supervision and substitution payments for teachers.