Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Questions (151, 152)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

151. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if, in the context of cost-cutting throughout the public sector arising from the memorandum of understanding entered into by his predecessors, it is possible to take account of those public sector employees who are currently working the longest hours and in some situations under stressful conditions and currently under review in the context of the Croke Park agreement; if cognisance will be taken of the particular needs of such public servants in front-line services with a view to ensuring the continuity of the service in so far as is possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10708/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

152. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if in the context of cost-cutting measures arising from the memorandum of understanding entered into by his predecessors, he and his Department will endeavour to maintain the integrity of frontline services throughout the public sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10710/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 152 together.

The Government is making good progress on achieving all of our targets and priorities, as articulated in the Government Programme. We are bringing public expenditure back to a sustainable level and driving forward the public service reform agenda to ensure that efficiencies and reformed work practices play a full part in contributing to the overall budgetary consolidation effort.

The medium-term expenditure management process began with the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE) exercise in 2011, which was carried out by all Departments to identify ways of reducing expenditure, in line with commitments under the Joint EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland, while minimising the impact on service delivery.

In recent weeks, extremely difficult and complex discussions have been underway between public service management and public service staff representatives seeking agreement on a series of measures that will secure an additional €1 billion saving from the public service pay and pensions bill by 2015.

Following intensive engagement in recent days between the parties which was facilitated by the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), the LRC has developed and recommended a set of proposals for consideration and agreement that seeks to secure the savings required by the Exchequer while ameliorating the impacts on public service staff to the greatest extent possible.

All sectors of the public service have been asked to make a significant and proportionate contribution to the overall savings. It is very clear that the impact of measures proposed in this Agreement will affect all public service workers and not just front line workers.

Public servants will be able to consider the full set of proposals by the LRC. The public service staff representatives who remained in negotiations have indicated that these proposals will be subject to ballot by members in the coming weeks.