Civil service unions welcome the recommendation for restoration of working hours

Public service unions have welcomed a recommendation that working hours be restored to pre-Haddington Road agreement levels from next July.

The 2013 deal increased the work week to 37 hours for those who were working 35 hours or less by that time. Those who worked more than 35 hours faced an increase of up to 39 hours.

Although the pay cuts introduced in the austerity era were temporary, it was the general position of governments that parallel work practice reforms, including additional unpaid work hours, would remain in place.

However, on Monday it emerged that the independent body investigating excess working hours, chaired by Kieran Mulvey, has sent recommendations to Minister of Public Expenditure Michael McGrath to restore working hours for civil and public servants, as evidenced by the building momentum. Consent under a Public Service Agreement.

Prior to the publication of the recommendations, Forsa, which represents thousands of public service employees, said if the government accepted Mr. Mulvey’s recommendation it would open up the last element of the HRA’s austerity measures.

Noting that temporary pay cuts for more senior public servants had already been reinstated, Secretary-General Kevin Collinan said such a move on working hours would put “a long-standing and vulnerable drain on morale and productivity”. Will be removed.

“Acceptance of the recommendation by the government will also raise the prospect of continued sustainability in public service delivery and quality, removing a major obstacle to successful negotiation of a public service agreement to replace Building Momentum, at least when it is due to expire later this year. Not doing it,” she said.

disproportionate impact

The union has questioned the notion that increased working hours would lead to additional productivity. Mr Collinan pointed out that during the pandemic civil service departments had temporarily reduced the working day from 7.24 to seven hours, “largely to facilitate social distancing, and productivity was at an all-time high during that period”.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization (INMO) also welcomed the move, saying it would help retain nurses and midwives.

“The extra hours have adversely affected our largely female workforce,” said Secretary General Phil Nye Shegdha, who said the measure had pushed many nurses and midwives into part-time work.

“Extra unpaid hours since 2013 have had a significant negative impact on morale, and the retention of nurses and midwives within the public health service.”

INMO members voted to accept the Building Momentum Agreement and its full implementation ahead of negotiations of the new Public Services Agreement later this year.

“INMO, along with other unions representing the public and civil servants, are convinced that a return to pre-Haddington Road hours can be achieved without excessive additional costs to the exchequer or harm to our public sector output.”

Earlier last year, Minister McGrath told The Irish Times that the government would not commit to completely reversing additional working hours, but would begin to investigate the possible consequences of such a move.

In 2017 the department estimated it would cost more than €600 million, although this figure has been disputed by trade unions.

On Monday, a spokesman confirmed that the minister had received correspondence from Mr. Mulvey containing the findings and recommendations.

“The ministers are looking forward to receiving the full report from the body in the coming weeks,” she said. “The government will continue to prioritize service delivery, responding to all recommendations of the body at that time.”