The Irish government's effort to end the 'King's Birthday' and 'Empire Day' privilege days' holidays has been thwarted by an arbitration ruling allowing senior civil servants to keep the additional to avoid a 'sense of grievance.'
The two special holiday days are a relic from British rule when civil servants in Ireland were entitled to additional days leave each year called privilege days - - one for the King's birthday, and one to mark Empire Day. Following independence in 1922, civil servants retained the entitlement to the two privilege days -- one at Christmas, and one at Easter - - and over the years they got several general additional holidays.
Under the slow-motion Croke Park agreement on public service reform the Government wished to abolish privilege days. Senior staff receiving 30-31 days annual leave would have lost privilege days completely. Staff entitled to between 25-29 days annual leave would have converted one privilege day to an extra day's annual leave. Those with below 24 days annual leave would have the two privilege days converted into two additional annual leave days.
The Department of Finance in a submission to the Civil Service Arbitration Board hearing in February said that the measures proposed would generate productivity savings of €4.6m per year and lead to greater administrative efficiencies.
However the Civil Service Arbitration Board
found that the management side “had not demonstrated significant savings
consistent with the transformation that is required”.
The country may be a ward of the International Monetary Fund, tens of thousands of lives have been damaged during a brutal recession in which senior civil servants were complicit and the Civil Service Arbitration Board wants the relic of the Victorian era maintained.
Many of the citizenry have more of a right of “a sense of grievance,' than this protected elite with exceptional pension benefits.
Civil servants continue to get 30 minutes off
each week to cash pay cheques, despite being paid by electronic transfer.
Last November, the Financial Times reported that public employees are given paid time off to attend local race meetings and arts festivals. In County Leitrim, public sector workers used to get paid time off to attend a local regatta on the River Shannon. Even when the regatta was discontinued, the free-day tradition persisted. When Leitrim’s public servants were finally forced to forsake their day off for the discontinued regatta, trade unions secured compensation for the workers affected.
The arbitration board was chaired by a lawyer, senior counsel, Turlough O'Donnell.
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