25 September 2023

PS union seeks shorter week

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Irish Public Servants will be demanding a shorter working week in their next negotiations with the Government.

Having gained concessions to reverse the pay cuts imposed as a result of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, the focus will move to a return to the pre-crisis six hour and 57 minute working day.

Motions tabled at the Fórsa union’s Public Service Conference also include demands for the reversal of other cuts, including reductions in overtime and sick leave.

At present PS employees are required to work an extra two hours and 15 minutes a week, or 27 minutes a day.

They can opt out of the arrangement but must take a pay cut to reflect their reduction in hours.

Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe has taken a hard line on reversing the hours, saying they will not be restored as it would cost about €600 million (A$960 million) to do so.

He said 12,000 workers would have to be hired to maintain frontline services if the hours were relaxed.

However, Fórsa union official Andy Pike said state bodies were experiencing difficulties in recruiting staff in a number of areas, including meteorologists, solicitors, valuers, researchers and translators, agricultural officers, and special education needs organisers.

Mr Pike claimed the starting pay for cleaners at the Garda (police) Training College was just €9.10 (A$14.60) per hour — below the legal minimum for private sector contract cleaners.

He told delegates that a recent competition to recruit permanent civilian posts in Dublin Garda stations had to be rerun because there were so few applicants and that after a recent competition for meteorologists, only three weather forecaster posts were filled, with eight candidates refusing jobs because of low starting salaries.

In a further development, senior Fórsa negotiator Tom Geraghty called on the Government to reverse pay cuts for new entrants to the Public Service in the next Budget.

He said the Government should put money aside for increases for those recruited from 2011.

In another measure resulting from the Global Financial Crisis, such staff start on lower rates than their colleagues, continuing for two years before getting the same pay.

A Government spokesperson declined to comment on Mr Geraghty’s statement but said there was a “set pot of money” to fund any deal.

Dublin, 22 April 2018

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