The Government has long since made their intentions clear (since the 18th September 2012) that they will look to negotiate with unions for the removal of some existing allowances for staff in the public sector.
Minister Brendan Howlin of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform openly listed over 1,100 allowances that he was looking to remove, with 88 of these for immediate negotiation.
There has been fierce objection to this plan by unions with the view that the Government were backing down on their proposal, however this week they came out strongly on this and will look to get significant reductions in the coming months, and by any event by 28th February 2012.
The Government are prepared to negotiate with departments on this and have also said that it will not just be new starters who the allowances will be removed for, but also existing staff which is significant, as the level of savings may be impacted if this is the case. Currently under Croke Park if anyone is to lose an allowance they should receive compensation to 1.5 times the annual value of the allowance, so to achieve the savings required for 2013 may be offset by the payments made in compensation to employees.
Negotiation is essential to the achievement of such reform as these allowances form part of an employees terms and conditions of employment and any variance in these would require an employees agreement to do so. The Government are looking to immediately engage with staff on these negotiations, and if unsuccessful in such negotiations the Government accepts that they will have to accept the decision of the Labour Court on such issues.
It is felt that due to the usual stoic nature of the Public Sector on such issues, third part referrals may increase and the Government are looking to propose a system to fast track such claims for efficiency sake.
There is a large variance in the level of savings that can be made by targeting particular allowances, some small allowances are only payable to a small number of people, and they may negotiate quite readily to remove these however some larger allowances applicable to a majority of workers would be more difficult to remove, however in order to make the savings necessary they will need to target these bigger allowances.
Below you will see some of the allowances proposed for elimination, and here you will see the business case put forward by the Government for removing allowances. It is likely to be a major talking point ahead of the budget and we will keep informed on this matter int he coming weeks.
- Allowance for principals who act as secretary to board of management
- Gaeltacht grant
- Teaching through Irish
- Island allowance
- Consultants’ continuing medical education allowance
- Gaeltacht allowance
- Travel allowance for non-nursing personnel
- Island inducement allowance
JUSTICE SECTOR (Garda)
- Clerical allowance
- Gaeltacht allowance
- Promotion exam grant
- Transport allowance
- Exam bonus – inspector
- Bicycle allowance
- Aran island allowance
JUSTICE SECTOR (Prison Service)
- Industrial supervisor (kitchen and bakery)
- Hospital orderly
- Plain clothes (certain grades)
- Tuck shop allowance
- Locking area allowance
- Border duty allowance
- Search and rescue allowance
- Civilian clothing allowance
- Underwear and night attire
- Chaplains’ housekeepers allowance