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SHAMELESS 'PRIVILEGE' Civil servants to keep extra days off as 'EUR4.6m savings' plan rejected by board.

Byline: RORY TEVLIN

BRASS-necked civil servants will hold on to two extra days off a year after plans to scrap "privilege days" were thrown out by an arbitration board.

The Government claimed scrapping the outdated leave - which goes back to the days of British rule in Ireland - would save EUR4.6million a year.

But the Civil Service Arbitration Board rejected them and civil servants can keep their extra time off as they have been turned into annual leave.

Chairman Turlough O'Donnell found the Government did not show the significant savings that would result from the reforms. Public Sector Reform Minister Brendan Howlin has indicated the Government will look to tackle the issue at a public sector-wide level.

He said he was disappointed unions could not adopt a more positive approach to the issue.

Following Independence, civil servants held on to the entitlement and were allowed to take one at Christmas time and one at Easter.

The Government wanted to scrap them under the Croke Park agreement but Public Service Executive Union chief Tom Geraghty said the plan would not have saved a significant amount of money.

He added: "This issue was not about privilege days as such. We accepted there was no difficulty cutting privilege days, no difficulty in incorporating them into annual leave. The argument we put forward was that the effect of this was entirely disproportionate. There was not any cash saving at all and any alleged productivity saving was fairly marginal.

"It has a huge impact on the people that would be affected by it, who have had two pay cuts and was attacking something of enormous importance to them. This was a proposal to reduce people's annual leave pure and simple."

The CSAB found scrapping the extra days off would create grievances that would not make any gains worth it.

However, it said the ruling should not be regarded as a setback for the Government and the issue should be addressed on a wide basis.

Irish Mirror Comment: Page 10

HISTORY

Privilege days are a throw-back to British rule when Civil Service employees would get a day off to mark the King's birthday and another to mark Empire Day
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 22, 2011
Words:363
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