Question Time: Regional Development Tuesday 19 May 2015

During today’s Questions to Regional Development Minister, Danny Kennedy, Cathal Boylan asked why bonus payments to manual grade Transport NI staff have been withheld in the past few months. Transport NI operates a productivity incentive scheme for its industrial staff. While the scheme does not allow for the withholding of productivity-related earnings, it does permit the reduction or recovery of such earnings “where workmanship has been found to be below the required technical standard or where higher productivity than the scheme allows has been claimed”. The rate at which these types of earnings has been recovered or reduced in the last few months has been no greater than normal. However, due to budget pressures, the Minister has had to scale back to a skeleton service which has reduced work volume in certain areas. This has then had a negative impact on the potential of earning productivity bonuses.

Transport NI have consequently sought to use the extra workforce capacity for areas of work that cost less in terms of raw materials and resources. Thus providing opportunities in which productivity bonuses might then be earned.
Ian McCrea asked the Minister about the recent news that Translink spent £170,000 on private taxi hire in the past three years, seeking assurances that every efficiency is being considered. The Minister revealed that he has been advised by Translink that the use of private taxi hire is closely monitored and “used only when it is the most economically viable solution”. Mr Kennedy did however acknowledge the public comment and concern over the matter and assured that he will “pursue the matter with Translink in the coming period”.

The Minister also answered questions on road and drainage networks, weed spraying, sale of reservoirs, speed limits and traffic flow.

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