Croke Park Deal 2 by Annette J Dunlea
Published In The Carrigdhoun Newspaper 16th March p.18
Croke Park 2 proposes to cut €1 billion from the public servants’ pay bill includes salary cuts, increased working hours and pay rise freezes.Other cutbacks include changes to flexitime, work sharing arrangements, redeployment provisions, new performance management arrangements and pay-grade restructuring.The document states that separate to the agreement, the Government intends to impose cuts on all pensions above €32,500 per year.The cuts will range from a minimum of 2%, up to 5% for those on pensions of €100,000 a year or more.This move will require separate legislation to implement.The independent implementation body says the deal saved €1.5 billion between 2010 and 2012.Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton has said the Croke Park talks were negotiated fairly, and denied workers whose unions left the negotiations were being punished.Five Unions recommend a no vote for Croke Park 2.They are: The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU), the Civil Public and Services Union and Unite.The unions object to what they call the “disproportionate impact” of a reduction in unsocial hour payments for lower workers, proposals to freeze and delay normal increments, and the imposition of a longer working week.Their issues include:the proposed redeployment arrangements, which they say will lead to involuntary redundancies, and proposals to change flexi-time arrangements for shift workers.The ASTI have now joined the No To Croke Park 2 Campaign.The government in recent weeks had threatened that if there was no agreement on the 1 billion euros of cuts that it would introduce them unilaterally.
In Croke Park 2 there will be sliding pay cuts for workers earning above €65,000 a year. Working hours will increase across the public service.Those working under 35 hours a week will now work a minimum of 37 hours. Those working between 35 and 39 hours a week will work a minimum of 39 hours.Overtime rates will be cut and are now linked to a workers’ salary. Those earning under €35,000 will receive overtime at time-and-a-half. Those on over €35,000 will be paid at time-and-a-quarter. Workers currently on 39 hours a week will provide an unpaid hour’s overtime.The Sunday premium will be retained, but at a reduced rate.Saturday payments are unaffected, but ‘Twilight payments’ are gone.The deal freezes increments for public staff depending on how much they earn. Workers at the top ends of their pay scales will lose either six days of annual leave over the next three years, or half of the value of their last increment, whichever costs them less.In the education sector, teachers will lose their supervision and substitution payments but entrants in the last two years will maintain this, or alternatively receive a modest salary increase, to reflect larger previous cuts to their salaries since 2010.The public sector pension levy will be cut modestly, with pay between €15,000 to €20,000 now subject to a rate of 2.5 per cent instead of 5 per cent.Other measures described by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform include: revisions to flexitime arrangements and work-sharing patterns.Strengthened performance management arrangements and proposals to restructure grades in the public sector.The deal guarantees that there will be no compulsory redundancies in the public service, but will see workers earning more than €65,000 a year accept pay cuts of 5 to 10 percent.Public servants will also be asked to work longer hours, have their overtime payments reduced, while those who work on a Sunday will receive a 75 percent premium, down from 100 percent at present.Up to €20 million is expected to be saved by cuts to public service pensions in line with the LRC pay cuts.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has appealed to public sector workers to accept the agreement.It has also been clarified that the new deal does not contain any reference to compulsory redundancies.If the deal is agreed by members, the new agreement will run until 2016.”Either we do it on the payroll side or we cut front line services further – health , education, social protection. There are no simple choices here,”said Howlin The new agreement also says that when the public finances are restored to a sustainable position, the pay measures in the agreement can be reviewed.”All public sector workers have already made a significant contribution to our economic recovery, however, these further measures are absolutely required to achieve a sustainable payroll cost.”Mr Howlin said that while it is now up to each union to bring proposals to their members, he hopes public servants will accept the necessity for the “balanced” measures.
There is mounting speculation that more than 20,000 staff at bailed-out banks could face pay cuts in line with the Croke Park II agreement for the public sector.The Government has no power to directly impose pay cuts at the banks, but it can ask the boards of lenders that are owned or part-owned by tax payers to implement the cuts.The Government is due to consider bankers’ pay when a report by Mercer is considered by the Dail.The report was completed last year and ‘benchmarks’ or reviews pay across the banks.It is only fair that everybody shares the pain and help towards economic recovery.
Causes Annette Dunlea Supports
The National Council of The Blind, Ireland