Irish government say no further cuts to public pay will be made in austerity moves
Government says the next cuts will be the final
The Irish government has pledged to seek no further cuts to public service pay if a deal thrashed out over the weekend with union leaders is accepted by its members.
Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin, who led the talks for the government, acknowledged on Tuesday that it could be difficult for public sector workers, who had already “carried a lot of burdens like everyone in society” to swallow further cuts.
He added, “This is the last ask. If you consider this, swallow hard as I know it’s not easy and vote for this, we will not be coming back again and we can plan our recovery over the next three years.
“Hopefully, the next time we sit down to discuss pay and conditions with the public servants it will be on the basis of a recovered economy and we can talk about improvements in pay and conditions.”
His appeal for acceptance for the deal could a saving of an additional €1 billion over the next three years for the government, €300 million of it this year.
Union leaders forced to accept proposals offered in negotiations realize it’s the toughest deal for workers in the history of the state. But, having won agreement that there would be no compulsory redundancies, the union bosses reckoned they achieved the best available deal in the continuing recession.
Union leaders representing up to 80,000 workers, mainly in the medical sector, walked out of the talks, which means that one in three are “outside the tent.” But with two in three still “inside” the government and the rest of the union bosses are hopeful the majority of the public sector workforce will accept the deal in voting over the next few weeks.
However, already executives in the union representing higher and civil public servants have decided they are going to recommend their members to reject the deal.
The deal means pay cuts of 5. 5 percent for those earning over €65,000 a year, cuts to high-earner pensions, longer working hours and reduced overtime payments.
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny’s pay will be cut from €200,000 a year to €185,000. Cabinet ministers will also suffer pay reductions.
The agreement on pay and working conditions between the government and public sector workers has been called the Croke Park Deal since it was signed in June 2010. The new agreement is being called the Croke Park Extension.
Following the 2011 referendum on judicial pay, the salaries of judges will also be decreased under the new deal.
Many of the unions that left the talks process before the agreement was reached showed no sign of changing their stance on Tuesday.
Whether they ultimately decide to take industrial action remains to be seen. Even though they left the talks, all unions will still consider the deal.
The Irish Medical Organization said the proposals “confirmed we were right to walk out of the talks.”
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