The Public Service Agreement between the Government and the Public Service Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and other associations representing public service staff is a four-year agreement covering the period 2010 to 2014.
The sustainable savings and progress being achieved under the framework of the Agreement are assessed annually by the Implementation Body, whose role is to oversee and drive delivery of the Agreement and its sectoral components. The Body published its Second Annual Report last month which found that sustainable pay bill savings in the order of €521m were achieved in the second year of the Agreement. This means that the Agreement has facilitated approximately €810m in sustainable pay savings over its first two years. Furthermore, some €678m in non-pay efficiency savings, have also been reported.
As well as delivering savings, industrial peace and facilitating a sustained reduction in staff numbers, the Body also found key reforms are being implemented across the public service with the co-operation of staff under the framework of the Agreement, for example, in relation to redeployment, revised rostering arrangements and other changes to work practices; the restructuring and reconfiguration of public services; and the introduction of shared services and online services.
The Government has said that it will honour its commitments under the Agreement as long as it continues to deliver substantial savings and meaningful reforms. I think it is clear from the recent Report of the Implementation Body that the Agreement is working and is continuing to deliver on its objectives.
However, the economic environment remains very challenging. The Implementation Body has correctly concluded, in my view, that the sustainability of the Agreement will be measured against its ability to accelerate the pace of change across the public service and its potential for extracting further pay bill savings and non-pay efficiency savings. We will have to look at more radical and innovative ways to deliver further savings, productivity increases and more reform over the remaining lifetime of the Agreement with even greater urgency. It will be essential that the provisions of the Agreement are used to their fullest potential.