Croke Park deal passes another test

25th October 2011

The Croke Park agreement remains on course to deliver the savings and reforms required under the Government’s agreement with the IMF-EU ‘troika.’ But it will be tested with the publication of the Government’s comprehensive spending review later this year and, again, when thousands of public servants retire early in 2012.

Last month’s ‘troika’ report on Ireland’s performance said the programme was on track. The public spending and staffing reductions required by the troika are being implemented under the Croke Park deal, which protects staff from compulsory redundancies or further pay cuts so long as the required savings and reforms are implemented.

The troika made no calls for further public service pay cuts, as had been predicted by many in the media earlier this year. It is likely to report again after the budget.

Earlier in October an OECD report on Ireland was also supportive of the Croke Park agreement, saying it “has contributed to social cohesion by providing a collectively agreed basis for reform in the [public] sector.”

The Government has signalled that the forthcoming spending review will see an end to certain programmes and activities, which is likely to require more widespread staff redeployment. It is then expected that at least 7,000 more people will leave the public service at the end of next February, the deadline for retiring with pension benefits linked to pre-pay cut salary scales. This is bound to create an even bigger redeployment challenge that that successfully met following the HSE early retirement programme earlier this year.

Speaking at a joint seminar for senior activists in IMPACT and the Public Service Executive Union (PSEU) in September, Robert Watt, the secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, said a planning group had been established to deal with this new staff exodus. The group will identify staffing gaps that arise so that necessary staff redeployment can be planned.