Union: No Croke Park II unless staff agree to work longer hours

There is unlikely to be a Croke Park II deal in the public service unless staff agree to work longer hours, a senior trade union leader has warned.

In a circular to staff yesterday, Impact said increased working time had become a “key demand” from the Government’s negotiators.

It said the employers’ side was demanding that public servants work the equivalent of an extra hour per day, regardless of whether their current working week was 39 hours, 37, 35, or less.

Impact said it had, along with other unions, rejected a five-hour working week extension and had also demanded that the management side provide details of how much would be saved from the public service pay bill by extending hours.

However, the union told members that at its most recent central executive committee meeting, general secretary Shay Cody said he believed management would not agree to a package that did not include some element of increased working time.

“Therefore, there was no prospect of agreeing an extension to the Croke Park agreement, or its protections on pay, compulsory redundancies and other issues, if unions refused to discuss any proposals on working time,” the circular warned.

The union also reiterated Mr Cody’s warning that if there was agreement on a new deal, management would seek to impose payroll savings of “at least” €1bn.

“It is also clear that influential elements in the political world would seek to impose other unpalatable changes in the absence of an agreement. Public statements by ministers have, among other things, called for the introduction of compul-sory redundancies and the freezing, or even abolition, of increments,” said the union.

“For this reason, the central executive committee reiterated that the union’s job was to try to reach an acceptable agreement, and to shape the outcome of the negotiations in ways that best protect Impact members on a range of issues including working time.”

Such is the centrality of the working hours issue to the talks process, that sources say the discussions will only really get going again once the value of the savings that can be achieved from working hours are quantified.

Meanwhile, the executive of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation meets this morning to discuss the Croke Park II talks to date.

Ahead of that meeting, the union’s general secretary said: “It can be expected that the intensity of this process, and the potential for serious developments, will increase, significantly, in the coming days particularly if management continue to adopt their current approach of targeting premium pay and allowances for cuts.”

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