Public Service Agreement 2010-2014

As Irish readers of this blog will know, earlier this week the government and the social partners concluded a new Public Service Agreement, which provides for certain safeguards for public servants in relation to pay and conditions in return for acceptance of and cooperation with public sector reforms. Assuming for a moment that this agreement is ratified by the employers and the trade unions (and this cannot be taken for granted), the deal will resuscitate the idea of social partnership as the framework for national economic and social development. This will have significant implications, probably on the whole positive.

However, there are issues for higher education that will need to be looked at more closely. The agreement has a second part which contains what are described as ‘sectoral agreements’; one of these concerns higher education. This latter ‘sectoral agreement’ is worth some analysis, and I shall be returning to it early in the week. For now, however, it is worth noting that the word ‘agreement’ may itself merit some scrutiny: the ‘sectoral agreement’ for higher education was concluded without any input or even knowledge on the part of the higher education institutions. That does not necessarily mean that it is a bad document, but it may be worth asking how universities, which are autonomous institutions under statute, can have ‘agreements’ applied to them in relation to which they have had no input whatsoever.

Unrelated to the latter point, the main part of the Public Service Agreement ends with the following clause:

’28. The implementation of this Agreement is subject to no currently unforeseen budgetary deterioration.’

‘No currently unforeseen’? What on earth does that mean? I blame the Leaving Certificate.

Explore posts in the same categories: economy, higher education, politics, university

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5 Comments on “Public Service Agreement 2010-2014”

  1. kevin denny Says:

    Inelegant yes: I presume it means that the agreement can be revisited if there is an unforeseen deterioration in the budget. Come on, you can’t expect financial geniuses to be experts in English as well. Astute observers will remember that during the boom, the government consistently got its predictions wrong with surpluses bigger than anticipated. Whoo-di-do. On the way down, it seems to be making the converse error. So I would not be surpised if the aforementioned unforeseen deteriorations do not occur.


    • WEll yes, Kevin, that’s what was presumably intended. But if you disentangle the statement you find it says something else. The Agreement is subject to no currently unforeseen budgetary deterioration: therefore it is subject to currently foreseen budgetary deterioration. Presumably the opposite was meant. But whatever was meant, it was an amazingly convoluted and silly way of expressing it.

  2. belfield Says:

    Those would be the unknown unknowns… in the best tradition of the politic that drives the whole thing.


  3. I was listening to the podcast of the Pat Kenny/Myles Dungan RTE radio program with Chris Horn and M. Hennigan. A paper I stumbled across in a search for prof. Iansiti and Levien’s book, The Keystone Advantage is worth reading. It is from the ‘antitrust institute’ dot org site, by Albert A. Foer and demands the issues of monopoly power, and N-sided markets comparing them to communist regimes of old. Constantin Gurdgiev today on Newstalk lunchtime spoke about the Nordic model in the public service where a lot of outsourcing goes on. Foer’s paper from the antitrust institute touches on that aspect at the end, comparing ‘access’ to ‘ownership’ and references Jeremy Rifkin’s The Age of Access. Just some other food for thought I wanted to share with you. Link to Foer’s paper here:

    Click to access 356.pdf


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