Thousands of benefit cheques 'will be delayed by industrial action'

Around 20,000 benefits cheques will be delayed next week as a result of industrial action, welfare chiefs warned today.

Around 20,000 benefits cheques will be delayed next week as a result of industrial action, welfare chiefs warned today.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs said the backlog will be sparked by the decision of lower paid staff not to work overtime.

The action by the Civil, Public and Services Union (CPSU), which represents 13,000 public servants, over the coming four weeks is in protest at pay cuts.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Social and Family Affairs said: “The effect of this ban, insofar as it can be assessed at this time, will be to lengthen the time taken to process new claims across the department’s schemes and will result in about 20,000 cheque payments being delayed by a day each week from Monday March 22.”

More than 1.3 million weekly payments are made to social welfare customers across all schemes, including jobseekers, one-parent family payments, widows and pensioners.

But the vast majority of these are through electronic fund transfer into a bank or financial institution, or at the post office, and these payments are not affected by the current industrial action.

Separately, the National Museum of Ireland said the CPSU action will force the closure of some of its sites on St Patrick’s Day and the following four Sundays.

These include the archaeology museum at Kildare Street, natural history building at Merrion Street and the decorative arts and history site at Collins Barracks, all in Dublin, as well as the country life museum at Turlough Park, Castlebar in Co Mayo.

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