Unions say Croke Park talks must not hit pay
Unions representing gardaí, nurses and prison officers – the 24/7 alliance – met yesterday to consider the talks which have taken place with public service management over recent weeks on the Government’s plans to cut its pay and pensions bill by €1 billion.
The organisations representing staff who provide services on a round-the-clock basis are expected to warn that talks on an extension to the Croke Park deal will have little future if the Government’s primary target for savings is the income parameters of their members.
The alliance is expected to issue a formal statement over the weekend. However, informed sources said it was likely to maintain that there was growing unease at the “proportionality” in the targets for savings set out by management.
The Government has indicated it wants to reduce pay for high-earners and to cut allowances and premium payments. It also wants to introduce a longer working week and greater scope to redeploy staff.
For most parts of the public service it has not spelled out the specific cuts proposed. However, as part of measures to cut the Garda payroll bill by €60 million over the next three years, the Department of Justice has proposed cuts in overtime, premium payments and weekend and holiday payments, including making Good Friday a standard working day.
The body representing middle-ranking gardaí, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, has already withdrawn from the talks process.
The Garda Representative Association is to meet on Monday to consider the proposals put forward by management.
It said yesterday its members had told it “loudly and clearly that they cannot accept any further reduction in Garda pay, nor can they accept a reduction in the terms and conditions of their employment contracts”.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said no decision had yet been made on cuts.
The executive of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation will meet on Tuesday.
Matter for discussion
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan also said cuts were still a matter for discussion and nothing had yet been finalised.
Union leaders said one of the key issues on which they were awaiting clarification was on whether net savings arising from a new voluntary redundancy scheme, which will see the departure of about 4,000 staff, will be considered as a credit against the €1 billion savings being sought.