Kenny warns of 'throwing figures around' in talks
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned against “throwing figures around here and there’’ in the negotiations to extend the Croke Park agreement.
“These are intensive and serious wage negotiations and they are being conducted by professional people between the unions and management.’’
Mr Kenny said he hoped everybody who had an issue, a concern or an anxiety would sit down at the table and negotiate, in a professional way, a fair and balanced outcome for everybody to deal with the problems of the country: a €12 billion deficit this year, a €9 billion deficit in 2014 and a €5 billion deficit in 2015.
“That is the unholy mess we must clean up. We are set on this course, and that is what we will do.’’
The Taoiseach was replying to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who said the proposals at the talks suggested that workers faced a pay cut of 10 per cent plus, including through changes in their premium pay.
In plain euro, said Mr Martin, this meant a garda with 10 years’ service would lose €200 a month, which was €50 a week. A nurse on an average salary of €40,000 per year would face a cut of €320 per month. “These amounts are excessive.’’
Mr Martin said morale was very low in the Garda and at tipping point. “It is not I who is saying this. Rather, the gardaí are saying it to every deputy who bothers to meet them to talk.’’
He said he would appeal to the Taoiseach and those engaged in the talks not to sacrifice the health sector or health service workers to get a deal over the line.
Mr Kenny said it was wrong of anybody to assume he could state what the outcome of the negotiations would be.
“What the Government wants is a fair and balanced outcome across the board in respect of its target for a reduction in pay this year, leading to an extra saving of €1 billion by 2015.’’
He said the Government had absolute respect for the work which gardaí did. He knew from speaking to gardaí in various stations that morale was very low. “Rather than attempt to predetermine the outcome of the negotiations I suggest that everybody focus on what is at stake,’’ he added.
“We must make reductions to get to the required point on the path to which we are committed, and that involves lowering our deficit to 3 per cent by 2015.’’ That was challenging for all public servants, he said, adding that the place to work it out was at the table where discussion took place.
Mr Martin said the figures presented to him were from people who were at the table. “I am not making them up.’’
Mr Kenny said he was not at all taken by the mock anger of Mr Martin on the matter.
“Everything he says these days goes back on what he signed off on.’’