Government prepares for pay cuts if Croke Park deal rejected

AN TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has told Dáil Eireann that legislation will be prepared to impose €1 billion of additional savings in the public service pay and pensions bill if the current Croke Park ballot results in a ‘no’ vote. Speaking on Wednesday (27th March) he confirmed that this would include €300 million of savings in 2013.

Mr Kenny also said legislation was being prepared to implement various elements of the proposed agreement in the event of a ‘yes’ vote, and said this would be ready for implementation on 1st July if unions vote to accept the deal.

IMPACT’s Central Executive Committee has recommended that members vote in favour of the agreement. Ballot documents have now been sent to IMPACT branches, who will conduct the ballot over the next couple of weeks. The deadline for members to vote is 4pm on 15th April.

An Taoiseach’s statement effectively confirms IMPACT’s view that the Government will move to cut pay and alter working conditions if the deal is rejected. Some have argued that Croke Park protections will remain in place if the deal goes down. But IMPACT believes that, while the proposed deal is unattractive, the alternative is far less certain and almost certainly worse.

The February negotiations allowed unions to shape and restrain management demands under virtually every heading covered by the deal:

  • Management wanted compulsory redundancies in some circumstances; there will be none.

  • Management wanted every public servant to work five extra hours a week; the outcome is much less.

  • Management wanted a three-year increment freeze for all; they didn’t get it.

  • Management wanted permanent pay cuts for staff earning €60,000 or more; unions moved the threshold to €65,000 and ensured a route to restore pay over time.

  • Management wanted a 100km redeployment limit; it stays at 45km.

Unions also constrained management demands on premium payments, flexitime, allowances overtime and outsourcing.

In a letter to IMPACT’s CSO branch yesterday, IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said the proposed deal was also the best option for members, including those who would suffer temporary pay cuts. He said:

“Both the Government and public service management have consistently said they will impose measures to make the savings if the deal is rejected. While (albeit temporary) pay cuts are clearly unwelcome, the executive took the view that deeper, wider and probably permanent pay cuts are in the offing if the deal is rejected. This is a particular concern for staff earning between €65 and €100,000 where the management side were seeking permanent pay cuts throughout most of the negotiations. In addition, existing Croke Park protections, including the commitments on compulsory redundancies, redeployment limits and outsourcing, will also be in jeopardy.”

Mr Cody said IMPACT’s executive made its recommendation after careful consideration of all elements of the proposed agreement. “Most importantly, it took the view that, while the proposed deal is very unattractive, the choice is not between this package and the status quo, but between this and something far less certain, and almost certainly worse,” he said.

Mr Cody wrote to the CSO branch after it issued an ‘open letter’ calling for the executive to change its recommendation.

Read more about the proposals and the ballot HERE