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IBEC's wish list: Stop public sector pay increments, increase working hours

The calls for change come ahead of a Public Accounts Committee hearing on the Public Service Reform

IBEC Director Brendan McGinty
IBEC Director Brendan McGinty
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

IRISH BUSINESS REPRESENTATIVE group IBEC has called for the immediate suspension of public sector pay increments, stating it is “not credible” to sanction the payments when a €3.5 billion adjustment is needed in the upcoming Budget.

IBEC said it is also making the calls to stop the €200 million annual increments “given the Government’s failure to achieve any significant savings to the allowances bill.”

Speaking ahead of the group’s HR Leadership Summit in Dublin today, director Brendan McGinty claimed “the country simply cannot afford public sector pay rises”, adding that “we’re spending €1 billion more that we’re taking in each month”.

The director said the measure can be “legitimately pursued” under clause 1.28 of the Croke Park deal, which states that “implementation of this agreement is subject to no currently unforeseen budgetary deterioration.”

Savings will “need to be found elsewhere”, McGinty added, before putting forward suggestions for increased working hours, a reform of the allowances system and an adjustment of pension entitlements.

“Another €3.5 billion adjustment in Budget 2013 is required and the bulk of this should come from reducing expenditure, not raising taxes. This is less damaging to jobs and recovery.”

IBEC says recent recommendations by the Labour Court setting a minimum 34-hour week for local authority staff “simply did not go far enough”. In relation to the allowances system, the group wants to see management proposals discussed with public service unions and, if disputed, put to independent arbitration by the end of the year.

It also believes that the Government will have to consider adjusting pension entitlements for serving public sector workers – and not just new recruits – as the current pensions liability is “simply unaffordable”.

Meanwhile, the Committee of Public Accounts is to examine the Public Service Reform Plan when it meets with Minister Brendan Howlin later this morning.

The Oireachtas committee will also receive a briefing on the work of the Implementation Body of the Croke Park Agreement.

Chairman John McGuinness said the hearing offers an opportunity to examine the progress report in detail and consider how the public sector is changing “in the way it is organised, in the way people are managed and in the way money is spent.”

The key issues to be discussed in the meeting are what savings are already being achieved, what savings are envisaged and what targets are in place. The PAC will also ask how are front-line services being affected as a result of certain savings.

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