Much has been written and spoken about the necessity of the Croke Park Agreement to deliver reforms within the public sector.
Government ministers, union officials and executives of the Croke Park committee have issued many favourable press releases outlining the savings that have been delivered as part of Croke Park Agreement.
Closer examination of the data tells a different story, there have been thousands who have left the public sector many of whom choose to leave before changes came into effect for pension schemes. Those on contracts were an easy target and not entitled to the many additional perks enjoyed within the public sector It was easy not to renewed their contracts. Moratoriums were placed on overtime in many departments and, small scale changes to some entitlements of additional holidays for new employees occurred. All this on the surface points to reform but is it?
It is true to say those changes represent a saving of sorts to exchequer – but in effect Croke Park agreement has achieved most of its savings through reduction in numbers and everything else has been put in a state of animation. It could be said that all the meaningful reforms have been kicked down the road and the public have been presented with a set of figures which on the surface appear that real savings have been made.
Without substantial reform of staffing departments and flexibility in working practices it will prove impossible to accomplish greater productivity with the remaining workforce. Inevitably without depth in numbers accustomed within these departments tasks will begin to back up like the passport crisis last year. This will be followed by union leaders appearing on radio and TV saying things have reached a crisis point and the departments need to commence recruitment.
The cycle of re hiring will recommence, followed by additional overtime, we have seen it all before. In 2014 The Croke Park Agreement will have run its course and the public service unions will have objective pay in protecting any reduction of its members pay rates. From the tax payers perspective the greatest disappointment could be that no real reform or savings will have taken place over the course of the agreement.
Listening to a public sector union official on RTE’s Morning Ireland earlier saying how civil servants must be paid increments due to all public servants, sometimes I wonder if I am living in a parallel universe. The huge gap between what the government takes in in revenue and what it pays out has got to be addressed. The Croke Park Agreement has not delivering sufficient reforms and is not likely in its current form. With the drafting of this year’s budget underway Croke Park terms and objectives must to be re-evaluated or scrapped altogether.
The terms of how the public service carries out its duties must be radically reformed now, and not some long fingered promised that will never be honoured.