Consultations planned on overtime and premium payments

Tuesday 6th December 2011

Unions have been assured that planned measures to cut spending on allowances and premium payments will be done within the scope of the Croke Park agreement, which does not allow for cuts in the rates themselves.

Yesterday’s budget statement outlined Government plans for cuts of 10% and 5% respectively in spending on public service overtime and premium payments. IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said the measure would be difficult, but could be managed. He noted that the statement did not call for reductions in the rates paid to staff and said overtime costs could continue to fall on this basis.

Officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform had already sought consultation with unions, which will focus on other ways of reducing the bill for premium payments.

This is in line with recent trends that have seen overtime costs fall substantially since 2008, including a 5.2% – or €6.3 million – reduction in the first year of the Croke Park agreement. Management has told unions that the Government intends to reduce the overtime bill by 10% in 2012.

The cost of premium payments has already been reduced in certain areas by changing work arrangements to reduce reliance on overtime. For instance, changes in rosters and other reforms in medical laboratories, agreed under Croke Park, are now delivering annual savings of €7 million.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has told management in each part of the public service to find ways of reducing spending on allowances and premium payments. But, in a letter to ICTU’s Public Services Committee, his officials stressed that “any initiatives which would arise should be advanced in compliance with the terms of the Croke Park Agreement and having regard to the primary commitments given by the Government under the agreement.”