Union criticises plan to pay public servants monthly


THE UNION representing lower paid civil servants has criticised plans by the Government to pay staff on a monthly basis from next year rather than weekly as at present.

The Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU) also warned yesterday of confrontation if the Government moved to reduce allowances to its members.

In an address on the opening day of its annual conference yesterday, union general secretary Eoin Ronayne said the proposal by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to introduce a monthly pay cycle had “struck fear and panic” into the minds of many members. The move would have “huge and worrying implications for those who can barely balance a weekly budget”.

“We cannot see any significant cost saving from this move and at a time when the largest public service employer, the HSE, is standardising at fortnightly pay, where does the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform think it is going with moving to monthly pay. It is time for a reality check. Try living on €400 a week and then go four weeks without pay.”

Mr Ronayne said that any move by the Government to reduce allowances for existing Civil Service staff – on foot of a review which is under way – would “inevitably lead to a confrontation”. Members had already experienced a 14 per cent pay cut, and any further reduction in take-home pay might well be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”.

He also said any move by Government to withhold or freeze increments would be resisted. Increments were not bonuses or productivity payments but “legitimate service-based increases that recognise the skill and experience of staff as they move from a lower starting salary to the full value of the rate for the job”. Mr Ronayne criticised what he described as the almost weekly hysterical attacks in some publications on alleged “fat cat” pensions enjoyed by public servants “and the more mellow commentary on the pension and benefits package of one Gavin O’Reilly who stood down from Independent News and Media last weekend”.

He also called on the Government to reverse some of the pay cuts introduced in the public service over recent years as provided for under the Croke Park agreement. He said the deal allowed for the restoration of pay based on the first €35,000 earned and was to be negotiated last year. This never happened as the country fell under the command and control of the so-called troika.

He said pay restoration as envisaged under the Croke Park agreement made sense as money awarded to lower-paid workers would immediately find its way into the economy.