Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Ceisteanna (54)

Joan Burton


176 Ms Burton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress made to date in regard to the implementation of the Civil Service action plan drawn up to meet the requirements of the benchmarking process within his Department and the public service generally; if the Civil Service performance verification group has decided that the level of progress warrants the payment of the general round and the benchmarking award on 1 January 2004; if payments will be withheld in any sector due to failure to make adequate progress; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30090/03]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

On 24 October 2003, in accordance with the requirements of the Civil Service performance verification group, CSPVG, my Department submitted a progress report on the commitments set out in its action plan under Sustaining Progress. Supplementary material sought by the group was submitted on 25 November 2003. Following assessment of the progress reported by my Department, the CSPVG decided that payment of the pay increases from 1 January 2004 was warranted for all eligible staff. The CSPVG noted that excellent progress has been achieved by my Department on the commitments identified in our action plan. I understand that copies of the CSPVG report, together with copies of progress reports for all Departments and offices, are being made available on the Department of Finance website.

The assessment of verified progress for the local government sector and those agencies for whom we have pay responsibilities is the responsibility of the Secretary General of my Department. A performance verification process was put in place for the following agencies: An Bord Pleanála; An Comhairle Leabharlanna; the Dublin Docklands Development Authority; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Heritage Council; the Housing Finance Agency; the Irish Water Safety Association; the Local Government Computer Services Board; the Local Government Management Services Board; the National Building Agency; and the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland. Having assessed the progress achieved by the agencies, the Secretary General of my Department decided that the pay increases with effect from 1 January 2004 were warranted for all eligible staff in those agencies.

Having considered the report of the local government performance verification group, the sectoral report, and the individual local authority reports and associated documentation, the Secretary General decided that, with the exception referred to in the following paragraph, the progress achieved by local authorities warrants payment of the second phase of the benchmarking increases and the 3% general round increase to each eligible grade of staff with effect from 1 January 2004.

Some general operatives in Dublin City Council's cleansing department were involved in industrial action, involving a work stoppage, on 6 November 2003. This issue was the subject of a joint referral to the Labour Court under paragraph 19.9 of Sustaining Progress and a hearing took place on 12 December 2003. The Secretary General deferred a decision regarding the general operatives who were involved in the industrial action pending the outcome of this process. The Labour Court has now considered the matter and issued its recommendations. Under the Labour Court recommendations, Dublin City Council and SIPTU must agree certain issues before the matter is resolved. At that stage, a further report will be submitted to the Secretary General by the city manager.

There are separate parallel benchmarking processes for local authority craftworkers and for general operatives outside Dublin. The parallel benchmarking exercise for craftworkers has now been completed and the verification of progress will be completed by 31 March 2004. The parallel benchmarking exercise for general operatives has not yet been completed.