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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 March 2008, 12:55 GMT
10,000 public sector jobs may go
By Niall Blaney
BBC News

Nipsa said jobs would be lost across all sectors
Nipsa said jobs would be lost across all sectors
Almost 10,000 jobs could be lost across Northern Ireland's government departments, a leading union has said.

Nipsa said the axing of 450 jobs by the Housing Executive was just "the tip of the iceberg".

It said thousands of public sector posts could go due to an efficiency drive which aims to raise 790m.

But the government said no staff reduction target had been set and expected frontline staff delivering priority services would increase.

Nipsa's Bumper Graham said the public sector cuts announced by Gordon Brown when he was chancellor had been taken up by Finance Minister Peter Robinson.

He was speaking after the Housing Executive announced the loss of 450 jobs over the next three years.

It confirmed the cuts in response to Nipsa claims that 60 temporary staff have been dismissed in recent weeks. The union is threatening strike action.

It is always difficult when staff are released, but the Housing Executive in line with all government departments is required to deliver a 5% efficiency savings each year for the next three years
Maureen Taggart
Housing Executive

Mr Graham said: "Overall, there will be a minimum of 3% cuts in staff and administration and a 5% cut in services each year over the next three years.

"You are talking about 10,000 people losing their jobs over three years," he told BBC News.

"If this was in the private sector and a big factory was closing, politicians would be jumping up and down. But they are not and we would condemn the whole the Executive for failing the people of Northern Ireland."

'Staffing budget'

In a statement, the Department of Finance said 3% annual efficiency savings over the next three years had been agreed in the budget to fund improvements in public services.

"The Executive has not set any target for staff reductions whilst the the increase in public sector expenditure over the next three years is expected to increase the number of frontline staff delivering priority services.

"Although it will be for individual departments to decide how the 3% target will be delivered, it has been highlighted that the impact on priority services should be minimised with an emphasis on doing things better rather than simple cuts."

On Wednesday, a protest was held outside a meeting of the Housing Executive's management in Belfast.

Nipsa said the job losses amounted to 15% of the executive's workforce.

The Housing Executive said the cuts were necessary because of reductions in its staffing budget.

Bumper Graham
Bumper Graham said the Executive had "failed the NI people"

Maureen Taggart, head of personnel for the Housing Executive, said the staff cuts would be primarily administrative and professional/technical staff.

She said the job cuts would also hit management and supervisory levels.

"It is always difficult when staff are released, but the Housing Executive in line with all government departments is required to deliver a 5% efficiency savings each year for the next three years," she said.



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SEE ALSO
450 Housing Executive jobs to go
26 Mar 08 |  Northern Ireland
Efficiency drive 'means job cuts'
25 Oct 07 |  Northern Ireland

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