The Collapse of Croke Park 2: Enough Is Enough.Bankers And Politicians Please Come Forward by Annette J Dunlea
Published In The Carrigdhoun Newspaper 11th May 2013 p.18
The proposals in Croke Park 2 were too harsh to be accepted by workers.The Irish workers voted against it.The reforms included :reduction in Overtime Rates from time and half to flat rate,Reduction in Sunday Premium Payments from double time to Time and a half.Abolition of Saturday Rate and Twilight Payments.Three Year full increment freeze and compulsory exits, redeployment to 100K.There were reformed Pension Entitlements for serving staff,elimination of allowances, significant pay cuts. Increase of 5 extra hours for alles and a wide range of reform measures across all sectors.This will involve a further reduction of some €1 billion in the cost of the pay and pensions bill over the 3 years from 2013 to 2015. Under this Agreement further sustainable reform measures will be implemented in the following areas: redeployment, performance management,flexible working arrangements. Changes to work/sharing arrangements and workforce restructuring.
Shame on Labour and The Trade Unions who recommended the acceptance of Croke Park 2. It goes against the ethos of the Labour Party and trade union’s philosophy.We hear nothing about the bankers who broke the country and who are paying themselves huge salaries. It was not the public service who bankrupt this country or the civil service who have being hit by pay cuts and budget cuts and huge budget decreases in their workplace. Peopel are hurting, their homes are in negative equity.The full property tax is payable next year and water charges are on the way.
Enda Kenny says the rejection of the Croke Park 2 public pay deal means public sector workers no longer have any automatic protection against mandatory redundancies.Kenny suggest that the government now believes the original Croke Park agreement which was due to run until June 2014, and which ruled out any mandatory redundancies is now void.The Taoiseach also defended the presentation of revised Budget figures which included the Croke Park 2 pay cuts, which were published even after public workers voted to reject the proposals for saving €300 million.Martin claimed the government was ready to proceed with unilateral pay cuts, and that laws cutting pay and pensions for public workers were being drafted and ready to go if LRC chairman Kieran Mulvey’s talks with union representatives did not lead to a second round of pay negotiations.He said this was in spite of the government’s insistence that the rejected Croke Park 2 deals could only be ‘tweaked’ rather than facing a total overhaul.The Taoiseach’s comments followed those of Pat Rabbitte, who this morning said the rejection of the Croke Park 2 agreement meant “theoretically” the government could pursue job cuts.He added, however, “there’s no particular will on the part of government to remove that protection from public sector workers,” he told RTÉ.Opposition parties say Brendan Howlin shouldn’t have compiled Budget figures assuming that Croke Park 2 would be accepted.Brendan Howlin has insisted that the €300 million savings need to be found – but opposition TDs yesterday walked out of an Oireachtas committee saying they could not scrutinise spending arrangements which incorporated the now-rejected pay deal.Meanwhile trade unions have threatened industrial action if the government legislates for pay cuts.Proposals in the now defunct Croke Park II deal had included salary cuts for those earning over €65,000 as well as reductions in overtime and allowances.
While it was still policy of the Irish government to seek pay cuts as part of €1 billion in reductions over three years, it had not yet been decided to use legislation to impose these.The Government had to secure €300 million in pay cuts this year because they were built into this year’s budget figures, said Mr Noonan: “We have to get those savings. We are going to talk about it on Tuesday at Cabinet.”The Minister said there was no urgency to agree an alternative plan as the cuts did not have to be implemented until July. “I would have much preferred obviously if it had went through on the vote because it is much easier to deal with on that basis. The fortunate thing is that the decision was taken in April – it is a good distance to July,” he said.
The Civil Public and Services Union’s annual conference will discuss how to act now that Croke Park 2 has been rejected.ts 13,000 members voted 86-14 against the deal.Members will also consider whether to pursue industrial action if the Government attempts to change their terms and conditions without prior approval.However, workers openly rejected the plan’s proposals to extend the working week, delay incremental pay increases for most workers, and reduce allowances and other premium payments.a number of points concerned them.The text notes that savings of €1.5 billion were delivered in the first two years of the Croke Park Agreement. No reference is made to the failure to review a possible restoration of pay for earnings of €35,000 as provided for in the text of the original Agreement.However 1.14 provides for the provisions of the Agreement to be revisited where circumstances arise which have implications for the Agreement. This amounts to an ‘unforeseen economic circumstances’ get out clause.For the bulk of our members the new net week is 37 hours an increase of 2.25 hours. This equates to an average cut of 6% in the hourly rate of pay for a CO. The gross weekly hours will increase accordingly.The increase in hours will facilitate further reductions in staff numbers.For those earning up to €35,000 including allowances in the nature of pay overtime will now be paid at time and a half but using the first point (first increment) of the scale regardless of your actual point .For those earning above €35,000 including allowances in the nature of pay overtime will now be paid at time and a quarter but on the officer’s actual incremental point.The overtime rate to be applied will be calculated using the new gross of 43.25 hours as the divisor and not 41 hours as heretofore.For the very small number of our members who may be affected the Sunday Double Time premium has been cut to Time and Three Quarters.Twilight or evening payments will no longer be paid.A three month freeze will be applied to all increments due on earnings up to €35k including all allowances in the nature of pay with effect from after your next increment date. This means you will wait 15 months for another increment to be paid after your next increment is due.
Where your earnings including allowances in the nature of pay move above €35k during the three years of the agreement a second three month freeze will apply in line with the bullet point following.For those on earnings above €35k including all allowances in the nature of pay but less than €65k two three month freezes will apply. This means a 15 month wait after your next increment is due/paid and then a second 15 month wait after that increment is paid i.e. a six month freeze overall.For those on the max of their incremental scales including all allowances in the nature of pay the officer will either lose 6 Annual Leave days over the three years of the agreement or forfeit a cash deduction from salary equal to the value of 6 days annual leave or half of the most recent increment paid whichever is the lesser.For those whose earnings are between €35k and €65k including all allowances in the nature of pay and who reach the max of their scale after having had an initial three month freeze or 15 month incremental period a three day reduction in annual leave will be applied or the officer may opt for a deduction in pay equal to the value of three days annual leave or a quarter of the most recent increment whichever is the lesser.
Croke Park 2 Proposals:
·There will be full co-operation with the allowance review with central negotiations on measures to recognise the loss caused by the elimination of pensionable allowances. Clarification is required on this as its unclear as to what allowances of our members are affected.
· Travel & Subsistence rates are to be reviewed with a view to standardising across the Public Service.
· Public Service Pensions in payment above €32,500 will be reduced. This does not affect our retired members.
· The use of outside consultants is to be curtailed by maximising the use of internal expertise.
· New Entrant Scales are to be adjoined to the existing scales to address the two tier pay structure now in place. This would appear to be nothing more than adding new lower points to the existing scales.
· A small gesture towards easing the burden of the pension levy has been agreed reducing the deduction from 5% to 2.5% on earnings between €15k and €20k. This will amount to about €125 per year.
· Workforce Planning will become the norm within ECF figures assisting management to identify skill deficits and staff surpluses.
· Changes will be made to the original Redeployment protocols
· Each Department will establish the number of surplus posts and their location and then identify the individual staff to be redeployed by firstly seeking volunteers to go on the PAS Redeployment panel and secondly by Last In First Out or LIFO.
· “Best Fit” by location will be applied.
· Individual Officers rather than ‘posts surplus’ will be recorded on the PAS Resource Panel with each officer required to submit his/her CV to establish suitability for a given vacancy.
· An appeal process for cross-sectoral assignment will be established but an officer will be required to take up assignment pending the outcome of the appeal.
· 45km will be the ‘guideline’ threshold distance but from either the home or the existing location. This is a significant negative change and could mean officers travelling 90km to the new work location rather than the 45 km currently in place.
· A threat of Disciplinary Action has been introduced where an officer refuses an assignment under the new redeployment protocol. The option of turning down two offers appears to have been cut from the agreement.
· Where redeployment is not an option for an officer or where ‘business needs’ do not allow voluntary redundancy may be applied. This is a form of compulsory redundancy in effect or what might be described as ‘constructive redundancy’ to borrow a descriptor from Unfair Dismissal legislation.
· Management will have discretion to alter, reduce and/or standardise the range of work sharing patterns
· No pattern shall be less than 50%
· Those with existing patterns below 50% will be moved to 50% plus patterns within the 12 months following July 1st 2013.
· An existing work-sharer will have his/her pattern reviewed on an annual basis and where one has not yet taken place it will be completed by the end of this year.
· Management may alter or change a pattern by giving three months’ notice. On business needs grounds and with reasonable notice management may refuse work sharing, require a variation of existing pattern or require a resumption of full-time duties.
· The Agreement provides that Flexible Working arrangements (FWA) will be revised to provide for greater flexibility.
· All areas must be appropriately staff during the working days including lunch breaks and FWA will be adjusted accordingly.
· FWA will continue for all grades up to and including HEO
· Core bands may be changed to reflect extended hours working and to meet business needs following local consultation. This will include the provision of services for longer periods and in the light of the 2.25 extra working hours per week.
· Flexi carry over is reduced to one day per period from one and a half.
· Flexi attendance for the work up additional hours should only be where such attendance is justified by work being available and necessary.
· Management may restrict the operation of FWA following local discussions in line with business needs.
· The PMDS will be deepened and in particular greater emphasis will be placed on mangers delivering on their role.
· Proposals for the restructuring of grades will be brought forward by 2014.
· Management numbers will be reduced by increasing the ration of staff to managers.
· There will be flexibility around grade demarcation. This all raise the spectre of downgrading of duties to lower grades e.g. EO to CO.
· The Agreement now provides for unions to be consulted before tendering and any decisions being made on same.
· A joint review of the arrangements on outsourcing if deemed necessary and is to be completed within 3 months of the review commencing.
· The Agreement confirms compulsory redundancies will not apply but subject to some exceptions
· Full flexibility in the context of the changes to Redeployment in the Agreement is delivered. Where redeployment is not an option and taking account of the business needs ‘voluntary redundancy’ will be appropriate.
· Flexibility in attendance outside the conditioned hours may be required to cope with work requirement. To handle this, the extra attendance hours (2.25 per week) may be accumulated or ‘banked’ with the officer working a reduced week over a period hereby ‘owing’ the hours which will be used during peak work requirement periods including attendance outside the new conditioned hours and days. This opens the potential for hours to be stored for use instead of overtime Monday to Friday but also on Saturdays, but without any additional payment.
· The Agreement provides for the introduction of more flexible patterns of attendance subject to detailed workplace consultation This provision my lead locally to an extension of the working day beyond the 9 – 5.45 and also require Saturday working.
· While Saturday is not a normal work day the Agreement provides subject to consultation locally for ‘banked’ hours to be used on a Saturday to clear peak work demand such as backlogs etc. 8 weeks’ notice will be given before any accumulated or ‘banked’ hours are used to clear such demand. In sections where peak demand is a regular occurrence it is anticipated that such attendance requirements will be identified at the start of the year to facilitate the build-up of ‘banked’ hours for use to clear peak demand. If agreement on the use of ‘banked’ hours cannot be reached locally the binding arbitration provisions of the Agreement will be utilised.
· Sunday will not be used in this fashion and overtime as adjusted in the Agreement will apply.CPSU Delegates also passed a motion instructing the executive to bring a motion to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions condemning the Labour Party for imposing called severe cuts and hardship on workers.The motion also calls on Congress to use the centenary of the 1913 lockout to publicly condemn Labour policies and disassociate itself from the Labour Party – and wants other Congress unions to do the same.It also states that no invitation should be extended to Tánaiste and Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore to attend this year’s ICTU Biennial Conference in July.The motions were passed by an overwhelming majority.Earlier the union voted unanimously to ballot for industrial action if the Government proceeds to impose cuts unilaterally, and oppose any attempt to tweak Croke Park II.It also calls for further campaigning for higher taxes for the wealthy.
The CPSU leadership said the redeployment provisions in the new proposal would amount to “constructive” redundancy.“The development is particularly worrying given a ruling by the Conciliation and Arbitration Board yesterday to allow the outsourcing of core clerical officer call centre work to the private sector in Revenue,” the CPSU said.“The ruling means an additional €4.9 million of taxpayers’ money will now be handed over to private sector call centre operators while surplus clerical officers are available in different locations awaiting the assignment of new work.
The 24/7 Frontline Alliance, the new umbrella union which is representing those in the Gardai, prison offices and some medical workers. They’ve engaged a firm of actuaries to work out the effect of Croke Park 2 on the gross salaries and allowances of a range of workers, and this is what they found.There are a range of reductions from 3% for firefighters to 11.4% for a staff nurse. No average is given but the modal reduction is 5-10%. They throw in the salary of a senator for comparison to show that those just over €65,621 will see a reduction of €621 or 0.9%, which makes the bald point that some politicians are escaping lightly. In fact, TDs earning €92,672 will see a reduction of €5,414 or 5.8% to €87,258. That’s less than a psychiatric nurse whose pay will decline by €5,441 or 11.1% from €48,860 to €43,419.For example, under the proposals, there is no change to the core pay of the 87% of workers in the public service who earn less than €65,000.In contrast, those on salaries over €65,000 will have their pay reduced by between 5.5% and 10%. In the case of those with salaries greater than €100,000 salary scales will be permanently cut by the relevant percentage.There is also a compounding effect in reverse here.For example a 3% rise in a wage of 100 euros brings salary to 103 euros.A 3 % cut in a wage of 103 euros is gives a salary under 100 euros.So in real terms wage reductions are greater than the indicative reductions expressed as they are in percentages.Working an extra two and a quarter hours per week for free is working those hours under the legal minimum wage and presumably could be legally challenged.If there were actual salary reductions many low waged civil servants would likely qualify for social welfare assistance. Working extra hours for free obviates this outcome.No civil servant or HSE administrator will face any pay cut under these proposals and they will have their working week uncreased to a still very low average of 37 hours per week. By contrast every nurse, teacher, Garda etc will face a cut in their take home pay. Despite the fact that many of them undertake very physically demanding work nurses also will have their working week increased to 39 hours under CP2 + one additional hour of unpaid overtime = 40 hours.Administrators make up the majority in unions such as SIPTU and IMPACT and have the numbers to vote through the deal. A majority of the public favour the Government re-negotiating the Croke Park Agreement according to a new opinion poll.The RED C survey for the Sunday Business Post asked people their views on the ‘Croke Park II’ agreement and its rejection by trade unions.Asked “if the Government should “go ahead and cut public service pay” half of voters says they disagreed with such a move, with 30% supporting it.Those polled were also asked if the government should “accept the union’s decision and try and renegotiate the Croke Park Agreement” which found 56% in favour of that.
Government gives unions two weeks to agree deal on savings.Coalition looking at a combination of pay cuts, indefinite freezing of increments and changes to premium and overtime payments for frontline public service staff.Ministers have signalled that if there is no negotiated agreemnent with unions the Government will introduction legislation to provide for the savings.The Government is looking at a combination of pay cuts, the indefinite freezing of increments and changes to premium and overtime payments for frontline public service staff if there is no agreementwith unions on reducing the publicservice pay and pensions bill followingthe collapse of the proposed Croke Park II agreement.The Government is insisting that the planned €1 billion reduction in the public service pay and pensions bill over the next three years must be delivered and has asked the chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission to report back early next month on whether he believes a deal can be reached with unions.Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte said Mr Mulvey would have a difficult job in talking to the unions.“It is a difficult task that has been given to him, but the nature of industrial relations is that sometimes the impossible can be achieved, but we’ll have to wait and see.”Asked about cuts in allowances, as opposed to core pay, he said: “The way it has built up on an ad hoc basis over the years, some of the additional pay to core pay does really constitute the income of people. I understand that and have great sympathy with it. But for that reason the adjustments made, for example time and three quarters instead of double time on a Sunday… I think it is possible to defend that until economic circumstances get better in this country.”