Unpaid leave would cost some workers €100 a month - union


THE PROPOSED unpaid leave arrangement for staff in the public service would cost those earning €35,000 up to €100 per month, trade union Unite has estimated.

Unite is the first union to indicate there could be unease among members over the proposed outline deal between the Government and unions which would see public servants take 12 days’ unpaid leave next year as a temporary measure.

In a memo to members, Unite said its position was that it “had no mandate from members to negotiate pay cuts.As far as Unite is concerned, the position has been that the strike on November 24th was not to minimise the impact of pay cuts but to oppose pay cuts of any nature which the Government was threatening.”

Unite represents about 6,000 public service members, mainly craft workers, in health, education and local authority areas.

The introduction of the 12-day unpaid leave arrangement represents the first stage in the unions’ alternative plan for reducing the public sector pay bill. This measure would be replaced in 2011 by a transformation programme for the public service involving job reductions, improved productivity and work practice changes.

The Unite memo details a number of proposals that featured in discussions, including a review of allowances, overtime and premium pay; areview of working hours and the working week; a review of on-call arrangements; redeployment and flexibility; and a suggestion of an additional hour per week (education sector academic grades) to be available to facilitate, at the discretion of management, teaching and learning in the institutes.

Impact general secretary Peter McLoone, the chief negotiator in the talks with the Government, told members yesterday in a bulletin that the transformation programme was expected to deliver savings “worth billions of euro”.

Talks on this modernisation programme for parts of the public service – the Civil Service, education, local authorities and health – continued yesterday between public sector unions and Government officials and resume today.

Trade union leaders said yesterday that further savings on top of the unpaid leave arrangement could be needed for next year.

Speaking at the launch of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ pre-budget submission, Jack O’Connor of Siptu said Government negotiators had maintained the unpaid leave scheme would not generate enough in savings.

“Efforts are being made today to look at what other measures could be taken to enable the formulation of a proposal that would be consistent with budgetary requirements,” he said.