herald

Monday 23 October 2017

Government looks to axe 16,000 more from public sector

THE Government is reported to be considering up to 16,000 more public sector job cuts in a bid to reduce its €20bn pay bill.

Redundancy payoffs are likely to be offered to 8,000 backroom and management workers in overstaffed areas such as the Health Service Executive.

The Dept of Finance hopes a similar number of jobs will be shed through natural wastage. The scheme was today said to be “on the table” for consideration in December’s Budget.

Cutting staff by 16,000 in the public sector would save around €700m, but that does not take into account lost taxes or pension payments. Under the Croke Park deal, the Government cannot impose redundancies. Voluntary redundancies would have to be negotiated with the unions.

It is not yet clear where the money to pay for redundancies would come from, but one source is reported as saying: “It is definitely going to happen. “It is just the detail that has to be worked out.

There will be a big redundancy payout up front but it will save money in the long term.” The revelation comes as Finance Minister Brian Lenihan looks to find savings of between €5bn and €7bn in this year’s Budget and as much as €15bn by 2014.

The Government is on course to reach its target of shedding 14,000 jobs by 2012, which has been achieved through wastage and early retirement.

It now hopes to add another 16,000, which could rise further, to that number by 2014. Reducing numbers across the 308,370 strong public sector is a “near certainty” for the Budget and next month’s fouryear plan to bring the deficit down by 3pc.

The Department of Finance is also said to be strongly considering cutting wage levels for all new recruits to the public sector by a flat 10pc in the Budget.

It was not clear today what would happen if staff do not accept the redundancy payouts and leave. Earlier this week, the chairman of the body overseeing the Croke Park deal, PJ Fitzpatrick, hinted that the Government may further slash public sector jobs.

Although there is a recruitment ban, some staff, such as teachers and nurses, are being hired when needed and other workers are also being hired under exceptional circumstances.

mlavery@herald.ie

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