Dáil Éireann - Volume 517 - 30 March, 2000

Written Answers. - Public Service Pay.

88. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the progress, if any, made in the recent pay negotiations on the issue of performance pay in the public service, relativities within the public service and under-performance. [5929/00]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): The Government entered the talks on a new national programme with a number of key objectives in relation to public service pay. These included the need to tackle the issue of cross-sectoral relativities, to establish a greater link between pay and performance, and to advance the process of public service modernisation.

The public service pay agreement which was negotiated as part of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness provides for the establishment of a public service benchmarking body to undertake a fundamental examination of the pay of public service employees vis-à-vis the private sector. It makes it clear that cross-sectoral relativities are incompatible with the operation of benchmarking, and that even within a given sector, traditional or historical relativities between groups will not prevent the benchmarking body from recommending what it considers are appropriate pay rates on the basis of existing circumstances.

The agreement also establishes a clear link between the payment of the third phase increase [399] of 4% and the achievement of specific sectoral performance targets under the public service modernisation programme. It makes it clear that performance indicators have to be established in each sector by 1 April 2001 and the targets have to be achieved by 1 April 2002, with progress having being assessed at organisational level by 1 October 2002.

One of the key objectives to be achieved under the next phase of the public service modernisation programme is the design and implementation of performance management systems in each sector of the public service. In the civil service, a new performance management system has already been designed in consultation with staff and unions and, following the recent ratification of the programme, this system will now be implemented in each Department and office. While the programme does not address under-performance specifically, proposals in relation to this matter are currently being developed in the context of the SMI process. These proposals will follow the normal consultative process.

The programme also acknowledges the need to examine issues such as new forms of work organisation embracing innovative work practices, multi-grade and cross-stream teams, and flexibility in grading, including broad-banding, complemented by imaginative reward and recognition systems including an examination of gainsharing. It recognises that these issues are likely to arise in any event from the benchmarking exercise.

I believe, therefore, that the new programme addresses each of the key objectives mentioned above in a constructive and balanced way, and provides a logical and coherent approach going forward.