The following piece is written by UNITE member Declan Black:
There is a huge danger that further reductions in Public Sector pay and other current Government policies to further reduce public spending will inevitably lead to reduced taxation returns, lower GDP growth and a vicious cycle of further cuts being necessary to achieve a sustainable budgetary situation. The Government have as yet to outline what tangible benefits would accrue from the proposed further reduction of €1Bn from the Public Sector pay bill.
Within the Public Service staff numbers are reducing, putting severe pressure on the remaining staff to work harder and longer to make the current processes work – the Government response if the media reports are to be believed is to propose longer hours. International data would point that the opposite is the case with the countries with lower working hours showing the highest productivity levels. This type of approach will inevitably lead to system failures, with staff under more stress and a further reduction in staff morale. Unchecked this continual push to increase workload without structural change will have real consequences as systems and services provided will inevitably fail.
The management side position in the current Croke Park talks appears to predominantly focus on further cuts that will impact on Public service pay and inevitably reduce consumer spending and therefore impact on private sector jobs. Economists increasingly agree that public spending cuts will provide a poor chance of stimulating economic recovery and will more likely hinder recovery.
We are 3 years on from pay cuts of over 14% for public servants and the predominant focus is still on cuts in pay, conditions and staff numbers. There has been little serious focus on true structural reform. The agenda should be focused on innovative service re-design and engaging staff to develop more effective ways to work incentivised by some sharing of cost dividends. This would be a welcome change from the current view articulated by many politicians and media commentators alike that “cuts = reform”.
The current Croke Park talks process lacks imagination and a search for innovative solutions.