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Government asks unions to attend talks on improving Croke Park savings

Brendan Howlin says depending on how the first talks ago, the parties might start negotiations on a successor to Croke Park.

A statue of Michael Cusack founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association at the entrance to Croke Park, which has lent its name to the current deal on public sector cutbacks.
A statue of Michael Cusack founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association at the entrance to Croke Park, which has lent its name to the current deal on public sector cutbacks.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Updated, 14:50

THE GOVERNMENT has asked the country’s trade unions representing public workers to attend negotiations where they will discuss how to achieve greater savings under the terms of the Croke Park deal.

The Cabinet, as its weekly meeting this morning, accepted a suggestion from Public Expenditure minister Brendan Howlin to invite a committee from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to the talks.

The government said its talks with ICTU’s Public Services Committee would focus on “a new agenda for improvements in the productivity of public servants, and reductions in the cost of delivery of public services”.

If successful, the talks could pave the way for a first round of negotiations on agreeing a deal to succeed the current Croke Park agreement, which expires in summer 2014.

In a brief statement, the government said it wanted to start the talks “in light of the Government’s determination to meet the challenge posed by the fiscal consolidation in the period from 2013 to 2015″.

It also said there was a “shared ambition” to build on the contribution that public servants had already made to “Ireland’s ongoing economic recovery”.

“The Government has indicated its willingness to enter a process of negotiation with the objective of concluding an agreement on workplace change and savings with its employees at the earliest possible date,” it said.

The ICTU committee confirmed it had received Howlin’s invitation. The invitation is to be discussed at a meeting of the Public Services Committee tomorrow afternoon.

A report from the implementation body overseeing the roll-out of the Croke Park deal says the agreement has saved €1.5 billion so far, including €920 million in its second year of operation from mid-2011 to mid-2012.

However, disputes have emerged between individual government departments about how non-pay savings should be calculated.

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