Taoiseach denies pay deal targets frontline staff

Wed, Mar 6, 2013, 00:00

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has denied that frontline public sector staff are being targeted in the Croke Park deal.

“Their Saturday premia have been retained and the unions in the talks successfully mitigated the proposed reduction in Sunday premia, which is from double time to time and three-quarters.’’

Mr Kenny said other sectors had made significant and proportionate contributions to the overall savings, including teachers and prison officers. It was clear, he said, that unions that had stayed in the negotiations had made an impact in terms of adjustments.

He said Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin had made it clear the agreement’s provisions relating to pay, productivity and reform, assuming they were ratified, would apply to everybody, and nobody was being treated unfairly.

Biggest contribution

“Everybody has got a contribution to make. Those who earn most, and those who have most, will make the biggest contribution.’’

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said elements of the agreement were very unfair to certain workers, a fact that was being made worse every day by a very cynical divide-and-conquer strategy deployed by the Government. “We have gardaí, healthcare workers, nurses, emergency medical technicians, Army personnel and many more who seem to have been singled out for particular treatment. The situation for those workers is deeply unfair.”

Mr Martin said fire personnel and prison officers were retaining double pay on a Sunday, while their frontline colleagues – gardaí, emergency medical technicians and nurses – were being treated in a much more vindictive way.

Workers earning between €150,000 and €185,000 were getting the same percentage cut as the healthcare worker on €27,000, he said.

Mr Kenny said the Fianna Fáil leader should reflect on the situation which had evolved. In view of the requirement to have an extra €3 billion of savings by 2015, the take from public pay was €1 billion between now and 2015, as 35 per cent of spending went on the public pay bill.

Negotiated the deal

He added that unions and management had negotiated the deal over a number of weeks, and the Labour Relations Commission had put forward its propositions to the unions for their consideration, analysis and decision.

“It is normal procedure, where unions negotiate on behalf of their members, that letters of clarification are issued to unions about specific issues, and that is what has happened here. Nobody is being treated unfairly here.’’

Mr Martin said it seemed there was a cynicism at the heart of how the deal had been organised in terms of the strategy of ensuring that the Government got the votes to get the deal over the line.