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Ministers affirm government commitment to seeing out Croke Park deal

Both Pat Rabbitte and Richard Bruton say the current deal runs until 2014 – and the government plans to see it through.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

TWO CABINET MINISTERS have this morning affirmed the government’s commitment to seeing out the full term of the Croke Park public service pay deal.

Richard Bruton and Pat Rabbitte both insisted that the current deal – which remains in place until mid-2014 – would be observed until its completion.

Both said attempts to discuss the terms of any successor agreement were simply a matter of advance planning to ensure that a follow-up deal was in place when the Croke Park agreement expired.

“The agreement runs until 2014, and the government is committed to implementing the agreement,” Rabbitte told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“I entirely support the government position, which is that we have an agreement and we have to honour it,” he said, adding:

There is nothing, however, that prevents the government if it were so minded to require the parties to convene and to consider new issues.

Rabbitte said he would support any government decision to include new issues in any discussions on a follow-up agreement – or amendments to the current deal, if staff unions were willing to consider amendments.

If you have agreement of the parties to sit down and, in the national interest, look at the overall economic situation and where we are now, and the fact that in order to be compliant with our targets we have to bring in what will be a difficult Budget in December, then if the government were to make that decision between now and then I would certainly be a supporter of that.

Difficult Budget

The Croke Park Deal (officially the ‘Public Service Agreement 2010-2014′) saw the government agree not to enforce pay cuts or mandatory redundancies in the public sector, in exchange for increased mobility and flexibility from staff who can be moved between agencies.

The safeguarding of public pay has become a hot topic in recent months, particularly with Ruairí Quinn saying that cost-cutting within the Department of Education was particularly tough – claiming that pay made up 80 per cent of his Department’s total spending.

On Newstalk Breakfast, jobs minister Richard Bruton said the current deal had “certainly served us quite well”, but added that “we have to work it harder in the reamining period”.

The challenges of the forthcoming Budget, he said, “requires us to look afresh at what would a successor [agreement] look like.”

“We have to plan changes, but equally you have to recognise changes – that we’ve had an average of 15 per cent cut in public service pay,” he said.

“I think implementing those sorts of reforms are going to require different changes and different issues to be debated and reconciled, if there’s going to be a successor Croke Park.”

Read: Croke Park ‘most successful social contract in State’s history’ – minister

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Gavan Reilly

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