|Government Buildings, Dublin.|
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
However the Civil Service Arbitration Board
found that the management side “had not demonstrated significant savings
consistent with the transformation that is required”.
“There was no significant analysis of the fact that while major cost apparently
saved were made at principal officer and assistant principal officer level,
those very grades may be required to work extensive overtime without any
remuneration or time off in lieu.”
The board said that the changes would have created “a
sense of grievance disproportionate to any gains which might accrue.”
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
Civil servants continue to get 30 minutes off
each week to cash pay cheques, despite being paid by electronic transfer.
Managers last November missed a deadline they set to abolish an "outdated"
practice of giving staff time off to visit banks to cash pay cheques.
Under the Croke Park agreement, they aimed to eliminate this 'bank time' in
Clerical officers get half an hour a week off and higher grades get half an hour
a fortnight to cash pay cheques, even though most of them are paid by electronic
Gardaí not only retire at the age of 50 with full pension rights, but are also
allowed to choose the three base years which determine their final award - -
good overtime years are the default choice.
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.
Sick leave in Irish civil service almost
doubled since 1980s; Average employee absent for over 11 days in 2007
Commercial litigation in Ireland on €200,000 claim double cost in Europe;
Average Irish court case takes 515 days