The Government has conceded that it may not achieve the planned €300m savings in the public sector pay bill this year as crunch talks on cuts with trade unions continue this week.
Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes admitted that alternative plans for savings in workers’ pay and pensions were being finalised ahead of a Cabinet meeting on renegotiating the pay deal.
Teachers unions will today meet with negotiator Kieran Mulvey, CEO of the Labour Relations Commission, and his officials ahead of the Cabinet getting an update on talks tomorrow.
Mr Hayes yesterday told RTÉ’s This Week that talks were entering a crucial 48-hour period. The key issue was saving €1bn in public sector pay and pensions by 2015, he added. However, he signalled that there may be some slippage in the €300m in savings pencilled in for this year, due to begin in July.
“Alternative solutions have been put forth in the talks,” said Mr Hayes. Some of those alternative solutions may not deliver the full savings this year but could produce the full saving in 2014, 2015.”
Senior government ministers last week indicated there was no new deadline to renegotiating the Croke Park II pay talks, which collapsed last month.
Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, overseeing the cuts, will brief the Cabinet tomorrow.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton yesterday said “significant advances” had been agreed with workers in recent weeks, but progress had to be made with two of the biggest workers groups in education and health.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton yesterday said no final figure for the savings would be calculated until the end of the talks but that the €1bn target for 2015 was still in place.
It was reported yesterday that reduced savings under the talks may only amount to €250m this year, following talks last week with gardaí and nurses.
Double-time payments for working Sundays may be kept by workers in exchange for taking on extra hours.
The individual deals being reached with different unions are likely to be discussed at the Cabinet briefing.
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