Unions welcome Croke Park review
Trade unions have welcomed a review into the Croke Park Agreement which shows that significant savings have been made in its first two years.
According to the report from the body overseeing implementation of the agreement savings of €1.5 billion have been achieved since it was introduced.
Ireland’s largest public service union Impact welcomed confirmation that the agreement had delivered savings, but warned there was no room for complacency over public service reform.
“€1.5 billion of recurring savings is a substantial contribution by public servants, who have also suffered an average 14 per cent pay cut since 2009. Today’s report shows we’re ahead of Government and troika targets on public sector staffing and payroll savings," said Impact general secretary Shay Cody.
“We are on target to reduce the public service pay bill by €3.3 billion a year. But it has not been easy and it will not get easier, not least because the economic challenges facing Ireland are not abating and could well worsen," he added.
Siptu said the latest review confirmed the importance of the agreement.
The union's vice-president Patricia King, said that the significant savings have been achieved with industrial peace and that, without the Agreement, such reform and savings could not have been made.
“It is important to point out that a large proportion of the flexibility and roster changes have been made by our members at the lower pay scales. These include the general operatives and support grades in the local authorities and health service that we represent. There have also been significant savings delivered by professional grades which are also represented by Siptu,” she said.
“The big challenge for the next two years of the Agreement is the accelerated implementation of critical reform and change and to ensure that the burden of such transformation is shared across all levels of the public service," Ms King added.
The Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) said the report showed the considerable contribution made by teaching staff and lecturers in ensuring that targets are met.
The Irish National Teachers' Organisation sad there had been an increase of over 10 per cent in the schoolgoing population in the past year while the number of teachers had remained the same.
"At the same time, reductions to the number of resource teachers in special education and English language teachers have been announced. The moratorium on teacher promotion in schools continues in place which means primary schools cannot fill many management positions," it said.
It claimed primary teachers had delivered over a million hours of additional time to the primary school system at no additional cost this year.
Fianna Fáil described the review as lacking in detail.
The party's spokesman on public expenditure and reform Seán Fleming said the report failed to detail any costs incurred to achieve payroll savings.
“This report only gives half the picture of the overall costs and benefits of the Croke Park agreement. A report that details the benefits but not the costs is by definition seriously deficient and does not give an overall comprehensive view of what is going on in the public service.
“The Croke Park agreement does offer an opportunity and a mechanism for major public sector reform and cost reductions. However all involved will have to achieve much more in the coming years than they have to date," he added.