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Public sector retirements have hit front line hardest – Ó Caoláin

8 March, 2012 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Speaking in the Dáil on the impact of the recent retirement of 9,000 public sectors workers, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, said it has hit front line services hardest.

He said:

“In recent weeks the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has repeatedly denied that the 9,000 public sector workers who have retired over recent months have done so as part of an incentivised scheme under agreements made under the Croke Park Agreement.

“I’m really not quite sure why the minister feels he needs to lead every discussion on the retirements with an indignant rebuttal of the facts.

“How does an employer achieve significant downsizing of his or her organisation? The answer of course is by incentivised redundancies or enhanced retirement packages. It is an absolute nonsense for any cabinet member to stand up in this house and deny the grace period retirement scheme is anything but an incentivised scheme.

“The Programme for Government commits to a reduction in public sector employees by between 18,000 and 21,000 by 2014. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform reaffirmed this commitment is his Budget 2012 announcements stating that government expects to reduce public sector numbers by 37,500 by 2015 from the number of workers in the service in 2008. There is no ambiguity here. Fine Gael and Labour have shouted from the hilltops their commitment to slash tens of thousands of public sector jobs.

“This incentivised scheme hasn’t targeted, for example, the much talked about bureaucracy across the HSE. It doesn’t reflect new structures or seek to complement the public sector reforms we hear so much about.

“It’s been a free-for-all that has hit the front line hardest and resulted in an overnight exodus of knowledge, skills and expertise that have been developed over many years. It is just plain silly for any Government Minister to stand up here and tell us the loss of 7,500 staff in the last two months – nine thousand in total – is no big deal. Change Management Consultant Eddie Molloy has commented that such a significant loss of senior knowledge and skills across the public sector would take five years if managed correctly.

“Minister Howlin can talk about transition teams till the cows come home but the simple fact is this government by its own admission did not actually know who was leaving the public sector until the end of January of this year.

“The Health service alone has lost 4,200 posts – Education 2,058 – the Civil Service 1,236 - local authorities 931 – Defence 362 and Gardaí 310.

“This Government has alternatives to address the exchequer deficit but, like Fianna Fáil before them, it trots out the same failed proposals that have done such a disservice to ordinary citizens throughout the crisis. The people deserve better.” ENDS

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